Blackberry Challenges

Forbes writes about the challenges facing Blackberry (RIM):

Microsoft wants to replace RIM’s e-mail software with its own version, which it offers for free. Microsoft in February lined up Flextronics, one of the world’s largest phone manufacturers, to build phones running Windows Mobile software. One million PalmOne Treos have been sold since the device’s launch in October 2003. A mobile e-mail software startup called Good Technology has signed up 4,000 corporate customers, including Wal-Mart and Dell, by letting companies pick which hardware they want to use.

It’s not so easy for a hardware company to go into business selling software on the side. Palm split its hardware and software divisions into separate firms and has failed to gain significant software share on non-Palm gadgets. In 1999Qualcomm got out of handsets to focus entirely on selling chips and software to mobilemakers.

Balsillie refuses to see the distinction: “Hardware is mostly software. That is a silly demarcation.” What matters to him is reach, getting software from companies like SAP, Oracle and Siebel to work on BlackBerrys. “RIM wants mass adoption. They want as many software applications on their devices as possible,” says Brian Vink, marketing head of Sybase’s iAnywhere mobile data division, which is developing applications for RIM.

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Rajesh Jain

An Entrepreneur based in Mumbai, India.