RIM Competition

The Economist writes about Blackberry’s competitors:

At the moment, 70% of RIM’s revenue comes from the sale of BlackBerry devices, and the rest from software and services. To broaden its reach, RIM has licensed the BlackBerry software to big handset-makers such as Nokia, Motorola and Samsung, while continuing to sell its own devices. It is therefore both co-operating and competing with some much larger companies, as it navigates the transition to a more software-and services-based business.

Other firms sense an opportunity to offer handset-makers their own BlackBerry-like software instead. This segment is switching from proprietary innovation to standards-based mainstream growth, says Danny Shader of Good Technology, a maker of wireless e-mail software that runs on a wide range of hand-held computers and smartphones. Without a hardware business, Good is not competing with the handset-makers (such as Nokia) that license its programs. Its software, running on Treo and PocketPC hand-helds, is already in use at nearly 5,000 companies, including seven of America’s top ten firms.

Brian Bogosian of Visto, another software firm that hopes to dethrone RIM, claims that mobile operators, like handset-makers, are also ambivalent about the BlackBerry. Many operators that resell the BlackBerry co-branded with their own logos would prefer not to dilute their own brands, he says. Visto offers white label software that runs on almost any device, and can be offered by operators under their own brands. So far, Visto has signed up ten operators, and will announce a deal with one of the world’s biggest operators next month, says Mr Bogosian. Other firms pursuing a similar strategy include Intellisync, Seven and Smartner. Patent-infringement claims abound, underlining the intensity of competition.

If all this were not enough, another threat looms on the horizon: Microsoft, the world’s largest software company.

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Rajesh Jain

An Entrepreneur based in Mumbai, India.