Let me preface this article by letting everyone know that in my house, my wife and I both own BlackBerry devices (her the Pearl and the Curve for myself). I have used an iPhone, played with several, and have had the privilege of using jail-broken iPhone. I think the iPhone is a nifty device, but not the end all be all. The iPhone has caused carriers to rethink their device strategies and I am thankful for that. Now on to the article…
In the past week, I have read several articles that have said pretty much the same thing. That "thing" is that the iPhone is going to be a serious threat to RIM in terms of market share now that the iPhone has Exchange functionality and and development kit that will give it third party application support. Let me make this plain and simple the iPhone will NOT be a serious threat to RIM and I will explain why.
The Main Reason
The main reason that the iPhone is not going to take much more market share away from RIM is quite simply RIM already has an install base in the enterprise. The fact is, IT departments do not do well with change. They are not going to redo an entire infrastructure just because the iPhone now has Exchange support. On top of that, through RIM’s BlackBerry Enterprise Service (BES), administrators can control the nitty-gritty of what is allowed and not allowed on their company BlackBerry devices. Finally, last but not least, the iPhone is a consumer device. It was built with consumers, not the enterprise in mind.
Quite simply IT administrators are going to want to limit the phone to do what they think their employees should be allowed to do. I find it difficult to believe that IT departments the world over are going to jump at letting their employees place music and video on enterprise phones. Yes, you can do this with the BlackBerry but an IT admin can disable the Media Player on newer BlackBerry devices from BES. Also BlackBerry devices built with the enterprise in mind (BlackBerry 8800 series) do not have media functions on the device at all (BlackBerry 8800 does not even have a camera).
What Could Hurt RIM
Now, RIM has not been doing so well lately. In fact, there have been a couple of outages in the past year that have left a sour taste in several users’ mouths. However, several of these people are not in a hurry to switch from their BlackBerrys to something else. I think a major reason for the outage is RIM’s new consumer focus. They have released two consumer pointed devices in the past year or so, and so more non-enterprise folks are using a BlackBerry. I do not think Research in Motion was prepared for this.
Though, if RIM does not get a handle on their problem soon, it could spell disaster for them. That’s a little too "doom and gloom" actually, realistically people will just start looking at other options. Research In Motion needs to really focus on their infrastructure if they hope to maintain a competitive edge in the enterprise.
I think that it is great that Apple is really trying to give customers what they want. Support for Microsoft’s Exchange Server and other enterprise features, as well as a development kit is really going to give the iPhone the groundwork to become a driving force in mobile. Apple has a solid device but even with the new features I would not expect to see it in the enterprise on a massive scale for a couple of more years (2 at least).
This gives the folks at RIM some time to come out with new devices that can compete with the iPhone’s "wow factor" and if early patents are any indication, they are not sitting on their hands. I expect that we will see some form of a touchscreen device (with a tactile keyboard of course) from RIM this year. So please folks, stop saying that the iPhone is going to take market share from BlackBerrys in the enterprise. It may happen, but its not happening this June.