RIM's Strategy: Get More Integrated With Enterprise Systems

It’s refreshing to be able to finally discuss RIM’s strategy for the future, without distractions. The company is indeed under siege from a host of competitors who have been steadily improving their mobile e-mail products. Visto, Seven, Microsoft, Nokia, and more are all chasing RIM, and blowing the lid off the market, too. While there is enough business for all these companies to grow over the medium term, there is no doubt that Microsoft’s bundle (Exchange Server 2003 + ActiveSync 5 + Windows Mobile 5) is challenging RIM’s dominance of the enterprise email market. From 1999, a time when making push email an integrated part of Exchange was totally foreign to MSFT, RIM offered the Blackberry server. This server would sit beside the Exchange email server, integrate with it, and do the task of securely mobilizing the email. But as of this year, the MSFT bundle also offers push mobile mail without any need for a Blackberry server. That makes RIM’s sales difficult: not many IT managers want to install a server that is almost redundant. And if there’s no Blackberry server, there’s also no need for Blackberry devices, and the associated service plans. Other handsets would work fine. So, looking forward, RIM needs to re-affirm the role of the Blackberry server in the enterprise. RIM is doing this by introducing FMC and collaboration into the Blackberry server, based on their purchase of FMC expert Ascendent. By offering new services that MSFT Exchange server does not offer, RIM can continue to justify the expense of the Blackberry server, and thus support the entire Blackberry ecosystem. Thus, we expect the RIM purchase of Ascendent systems to be the first of many projects RIM launches to integrate IMS and other convergent functionality into Blackberry.

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