RIM examines market beyond BlackBerry

LONDON, U.K. — Canada’s Research In Motion used the Symbian Expo this week to get across the message that it wants to see the BlackBerry wireless data service deployed on OSes and devices other than its well-known pager.

In a conference

session called “”Flexibility for the Wireless Enterprise,”” RIM director Susan Payne put up a slide showing a number of Symbian-powered devices, including the Sony Ericsson P900 line and Nokia’s Series 80 products, which are already available on its BlackBerry Connect service, which was introduced in March 2003. The licensing program allows mobile device manufacturers to equip their handsets with the integrated ability to connect to BlackBerry Enterprise Server.

“”If you came to see this presentation two years ago, the only device you could have seen was a BlackBerry device,”” Payne admitted, adding that the program arose out of RIM research that revealed key barriers to the adoption of wireless in the enterprise. “”There was no confidence (enterprise customers) would make the right choice of device.””

RIM has 33,000 corporate customers on the BlackBerry Enterprise Server, Payne said, and connections with more than 70 carriers worldwide. The BlackBerry Connect program is part of a strategy at RIM to not only broaden the market for its services beyond its own hardware — as Palm did when it split off its OS and device business — but to offer services besides e-mail.

Though most firms have told RIM they start their mobile communications strategy with e-mail in mind, many customers eventually plan to offer expense reporting, customer records and alerts to changes in enterprise data that require no interaction from users. No matter what the service, however, Payne said enterprise customers put a premium on coverage, open standards, reliability and security.

“”We don’t get a pass on anything when we put corporate data on wireless devices,”” she said. “”Remember, it’s the IT guys who control it, and they want to control it all.””

RIM competitors at the show include Visto, which announced Version 5.0 of its platform for push e-mail service for the Symbian OS. Sony Ericsson has already added the service to its P900 line as well.

Brian Bogosian, Visto’s chief executive, said the company has signed up 10 mobile operators as customers so far. He acknowledged the difficulty in getting out from the BlackBerry’s shadow.

“”Everybody talks about RIM,”” he said during a presentation at the show. “”They were really the first to package an application and a device to access e-mail and not be at your desk . . . we know the surface has been scratched.””

Visto’s ConstantSync technology is designed to ensure that new messages, message replies, and calendar or contact updates made on mobile phones are updated on the PC or corporate messaging server automatically and instantly with absolute synchronicity between the user’s inbox, sent items, and deleted items folders. This is the priority in the enterprise, Bogosian said.

“”If you can’t get e-mail right, you’ve lost the market opportunity,”” he said. “”This is the Holy Grail of the operator community.””

RIM is also offering BlackBerry Connect on Symbian’s competitors, Palmsource and Microsoft’s Windows Mobile. In each case, the company has two manufacturers creating devices running one of those OSes. “”Right now it’s about even,”” Payne said.

The sixth annual Symbian Expo wrapped up Wednesday.

Comment: info@itbusiness.ca

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