Thursday, February 16, 2006

CIOs plan last laugh in BlackBerry brouhaha

Following on some great posts by Daniel Taylor at Mobile Enterprise Weblog about Research in Motion's disregard for its enterprise customers (with emphasis on enterprise and not users) during this current patent litgation fiasco, it seems some CIOs are finally taking it into their own hands to check out alternatives to their Blackberry service as writes. The article talks to several CIOs, who said "they are already testing alternatives to RIM technology -- and spending time playing company shrink to anxious BlackBerry users."

Microsoft's recent push-email partnerships with Vodafone, Cingular, Orange and T-Mobile could provide CIOs with more alternatives and another thorn in RIM's side. Forrester Research analyst Ellen Daley said, "Microsoft's strategy is so much bigger than RIM, it's not even funny." She added that the timing is "maybe a little accelerated because of the RIM uncertainty. But really the bottom line is what Microsoft is trying to do is own mobility -- both from the consumer and enterprise perspective."

Daley explained that "[Microsoft] can say to customers, 'OK, Cingular, T-Mobile and Vodafone all have a Windows Mobile device that has the software on it that you can push e-mail from Microsoft. That's a marketing strategy -- good for Microsoft, bad for RIM."

Regarding RIM's vague workaround, analysts predict a court settlement is more likely than a BlackBerry blackout. Kevin Burden at IDC said, "RIM certainly does understand that a disruption to their U.S. service would be far more detrimental to its future business than a large settlement. If it has to pay out $1 billion or more, sure that hurts. But it doesn't hurt as much as interrupting the service."

No matter which way the chips fall, it looks like enterprises are testing alternatives and discovering solutions that will work in case Blackberry service is shutdown. As the article notes, even if this doesn't happen, RIM will be far from unscathed as companies now have some bargaining power to get what's best for their business (and again not necessarily what individuals think is best for themselves)...