We have two very different approaches to mobile e-mail.
1) The RIM model is a traditional IT approach that engages a range of ISVs, integrators, solutions providers and other partners in bringing an ultimate solution to market. The wireless operators are a channel to market, but the key component of their involvement is the mobile data network they bring to the table. With 802.11 radios in BlackBerry (or BlackBerry Built-In or BlackBerry Connect) devices, the wireless operators are not as significant.
I liken RIM’s model to the AS/400 and other corporate computing platforms that involve lots of ISV partners and integrators to build additional functionality to the basic platform and service.
For many corporate mobile environments, the RIM model is appropriate for one primary reason — security. Maintaining data integrity is a good reason to keep the valuable data on a server in a data center…as opposed to a device and a memory card.
2) This alternative approach is best exemplified by Visto. There are others, but I will focus on Visto in large part because of their announcement with Vodafone Global two weeks ago.
As I have discussed in other postings, Visto’s approach is not linked to a specific client software. Like other vendors (e.g. Intellisync), Visto is very much about synchronizing information between a networked server and a relatively “smart” client device. I know Visto holds a number of patents in this regard, but I don’t want to head in that direction.
More important to the Visto equation is the next-generation mobile telephone. Call it a smartphone, a Treo, a Symbian phone: it doesn’t matter. There are many e-mail clients available today for these devices. And millions of these phones are pouring onto the marketplace.
The second component of the Visto equation is the wireless operator – as in operator-provisioned mobile e-mail. This is the key to a much larger market: a market of smaller companies with less IT support staff and lower budgets for integration.