RIM destined for extinction?

Research in Motion (RIM) will become a victim of its own proprietary solutions and is doomed to extinction within a decade unless it embraces open standards.

This is the argument put forward by Carsten Brinkschulte, CEO of Synchronica, the firm that put the scream feature into stolen mobiles. Brinkschulte believes RIM’s reluctance to embrace open standards like SyncML and Push IMAP will ruin the firm, which currently dominates mobile email.

Brinkschulte points to the increasingly dense population of mobile phones capable of handling email from vendors like Nokia and Sony Ericsson, both of whom support open standards. “I think the BlackBerry has peaked,” Brinkschulte says. “Look at what’s happening, there are around 300 mobile devices from various manufacturers supporting push IMAP and SyncML, all offer similar functionality (to the BlackBerry) but they offer the user a much wider choice of handsets and devices.”

Brinkschulte is not the first to predict the BlackBerry’s demise but given his own firm uses both SyncML and IMAP in its products, he would say that. Wouldn’t he?

Not according to IDC’s Geoff Blaber who believes that there do exist sober arguments for embracing open standards. However, the analyst suggests that RIM has more than enough momentum to silence the nay sayers and a reputation that endears it to the most demanding IT managers. “Personally I think to write off RIM is a complete misnomer. RIM totally defines mobile email particularly in the enterprise space and it is growing in the SMB [Small and Medium Business] space and below.”

Blaber also points to RIM’s success with its Connect licensing program and argues that as more new entrants vie for position in the mobile email space, it is the BlackBerry that will dominate the high-end. “I have no doubt it will define the high-end space but almost certainly where RIM faces a real challenge is in the consumer space… where the likes of Microsoft and Nokia are strong.”

Forrester analyst Phil Sayer says it is often the rest of the push email world that is seen “putting the boot in” on RIM’s success with the BlackBerry. “Right now RIM is Push email,” says Sayer. “The difference between RIM and say Goode or Seven is that they are selling a complete end-to-end solution that is known for being solid and reliable. No one else can offer that.”

Like Blaber, Sayer believes RIM has stepped out of the proprietary box with its Connect programme which is available on 20 different handsets around the world. “Connect allows pretty much anyone to use RIM’s technology on their device but that’s just mobile email. They are also doing well in wider applications, particularly vertical applications.” Sayer explains that he recently visited a conference where 250 firms declared their support for RIM and the development of vertical and horizontal applications for the platform. “In Spain for example,” says Sayer, “75 per cent of BlackBerry sales are driven not by email but by the other applications available for it.”

Research in Motion refused to comment.


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