Yankee Group gives RIM high marks on wireless report card

Research in Motion’s BlackBerry got a glowing review from The Yankee Group, but was also advised not to rest on its laurels.

The Boston-based research company released it analysis of the wireless personal digital assistant (PDA) market on Monday. In the report, RIM earned five As and two Bs in its enterprise grade, besting companies like Casio and Palm. Only Compaq Computer Corp. received better marks.

According to Yankee Group analyst Sarah Kim, thanks to a move towards wireless communications RIM has managed to take some of the leadership from Palm because it is currently the only provider of an always-connected solution. This doesn’t mean, however, the PDA war has been won.

“RIM has shipped some one million plus units over the years and continues to gain acceptance in the specific enterprise market, but it is clear RIM does need some new markets and that it needs new opportunities to exploit,” says Kim.

“We do hope to see RIM introduce some new devices with features that better target consumers such as trendy designs and colors. While that may seem trivial, we see from the phone manufacturers that both of these components are truly important to the end user.”

Kim predicts the greatest danger to the Waterloo, Ont.-based company comes from a company that doesn’t even make a PDA.

“We see their biggest competitive threat to be coming from Microsoft, who has been talking about it mobile server solution for some time now, and if there’s anyone with a lot of marketing clout it is certain it is Microsoft,” says Kim.

This isn’t the only front on which Microsoft Corp. is waging war. Palm and the trio of PocketPC devices (made by Hewlett-Packard Co., Casio and Compaq) are also fighting for market share. While Pocket PC has been gaining recently, Palm is still the leader in terms of quantity, Kim says, and the Palm operating system (OS) needs to evolve and needs more application program interfaces.

“For years Microsoft has been trying to compete against Palm’s simplicity and it finally learned that simplicity is just not its core competency. So today, PocketPC, which is doing much better, has learned to differentiate from Palm via its ability to offer a functionally-rich mobile device,” Kim says.

“On the other hand, given its support for all these applications it also is associated with higher power consumption and a large form factor, both of which deter it from competing on the same level of mobile as a device such as RIM.”

Regardless of who comes out on top, Kim says a world of opportunity is being created for OS makers. “There’s definitely a need for more robust environments that can simplify all the underlying complexity,” to network and portal providers, and resellers.

“All these players have a big chance to partner with key device manufacturers and bring services to the market. This is definitely a paradigm shift and they are the ones to lead the next venture into wireless mobile data,” says Kim.

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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