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Summary:

Despite a series of promising announcements at this week’s BlackBerry World, Research In Motion’s share of the smartphone market continues to erode, and no QNX handsets are yet on the horizon. Apple, meanwhile, could be poised to take RIM’s crown as king of the mobile enterprise.

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Shares of Research In Motion plunged late last week after the company slashed its earnings and sales forecasts for the current quarter, but the company was positioned for a rebound this week with a flurry of announcements from its BlackBerry World event. It introduced the Bold 9900 and 9930 handsets, announced a deal to integrate Microsoft’s Bing on BlackBerry handsets and trumpeted the acquisition of software-maker Ubitexx. But there are a few reasons why Apple, not RIM, may be better positioned in today’s mobile enterprise.

  1. BlackBerry OS is old and there are still no QNX handsets. The days of BlackBerry being the device of choice among the business class have ended. End users are increasingly determining which devices they use for work, and they’re opting for consumer-targeted devices that run newer, slicker operating systems. RIM recently said it expects a shortfall in BlackBerry sales, leading to a 10 percent plunge in its stock. QNX looks promising, but the new handsets are powered by BlackBerry 7, and as my colleague Kevin C. Tofel noted, they aren’t enough to lure users away from the iPhone.
  2. Apple’s iOS is ready for business. While the platform once had some crucial shortcomings, Forrester said last year that “most enterprises can use Apple mobile enterprises securely.” IOS clearly doesn’t offer the kind of iron-clad security that, say, would be necessary for Barack Obama, but it now supports email encryption, one-second remote device wipe and other management policies IT departments demand, such as wireless app distribution and improved email support. And businesses are responding: Apple CFO Peter Oppenheimer said last month that 88 percent of Fortune 500 companies are testing or deploying iPhones, and 75 percent are testing or deploying iPads.
  3. Apple still owns the tablet market. The iPad accounted for a whopping 85 percent of worldwide tablet sales in 2010, according to recent data from ABI Research, and the gadget is already finding a home in the enterprise. And viable competition for the iPad in the enterprise has yet to emerge: RIM’s PlayBook has met with mixed reviews at best, and it is targeted at the ever-diminishing audience of BlackBerry users. RBC Capital Markets analyst Mike Abramsky recently predicted RIM would sell 500,000 PlayBooks by the end of May, a respectable figure, to be sure, but nothing to the one million iPad 2 tablets that sold during that gadget’s opening weekend.

RIM won’t disappear from the mobile landscape — the Ubitexx acquisition underscores the role RIM could play as a device-management company — but it is rapidly losing its standing as the preeminent provider of a mobile operating system for the enterprise. Meanwhile, the likes of Android and Microsoft and Nokia remain more likely to flourish inthe consumer space. For more that, and to read more about Apple’s chances in the enterprise, please see my weekly column at GigaOM Pro (subscription required).

Image courtesy Flickr user Cristiano Betta.

  1. It’s still not clear that the OS or H/W is secure “enough”.

    And that motivations behind Apple (and Google’s) consumer app stores are a direct contradiction to those of the enterprise.

    Rim has it’s issues. So does Apple.
    They’re just different but equally challenging

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    1. Thanks for the comments, Bob. Always good to hear from you.

      You’re right that iOS isn’t secure enough for some companies/industries, but it’s more than adequate for most businesses.

      And while the consumer app stores can definitely be a problem in the enterprise, iOS enables IT to ban/control access to Apple’s App Store.

      Apple certainly faces issues in the enterprise, but I don’t agree that those are equally challenging to what RIM faces.

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  2. there is no powerpoint on the ipad with an hdmi out! ipad also isn’t very portable…look like a complete knob taking that ten inch 4:3 aspect ratio (lol) out…it’s mostly a wifi tablet for home with a vastly compromised web browsing experience.

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    1. Powerpoint? You’ve got Keynote which completely blows PP out of the water and you can use either the HDMI solution or AppleTV which is not much more expensive then those silly, monster, gold-plated HDMI cables.

      And apparently the web-browsing experience is not compromised for the 200 million iOS users in the world.

      And RIM’s issues are much, much deeper. They don’t actually have a shipping OS, hardware, or eco-system that anyone wants. They think Flash and running Android apps in an emulation mode is going to give them some kind of bizarre advantage over somebody, somewhere. And they have those “Super Apps” but forgot about email and calendar apps for their slate.

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      1. Frank Castle Wednesday, May 4, 2011

        Keynote is not the enterprise standard for presentation. It’s nice but you lose many native PowerPoint features. Have you tried moving a Keynote/PowerPoint to iPad? It’s a mess. You either need iTunes or a 3rd party app. You also from a enterprise perspective lose any management of corporate data.

        Do this for scale. mini-HDMI to HDMI cable for Playbook from monocable ($2.50) vs. iPAD HDMI / VGA dongle ($39.99) Scale that cost out over say 100 devices and you see the cost savings. Now add $10.00 for the Keynote app and it’s a no brainer. Playbook is the best presentation mobile tool now bar none.

        I think the 6000 people attending Blackberry World this week representing companies from all over the world will beg to differ that they are “unwanted”. You as a fanboy don’t but your not enterprise IT either are you.

        Android app preview was smooth and fast. It didn’t run any different then a native Playbook app. It has potential. As well native email / PIM was shown. Not much issues left so just admit you dislike RIM and leave it at that.

        Apple’s issue is the same they always have with enterprise they don’t share roadmap, have an enterprise support structuce and have an ecosystem that revolves around consumers and credit cards. Where is corporate billing? App managment?

        BYOT is not enterprise IT. BYOT has its own issues and is not for everyone. Any company thinking BYOT is their answer and rely on it 100% is in for a mess.

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  3. RIM IS DEAD!

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  4. What might be unclear to some is that on the iphone, you can set up your OWN corporate-enterprise “app-store,” that only your users an access (along with the itunes store separately). Blackberry is doomed because they are built upon selling Blackbery servers and monthly maintance of that – yes, that’s not to say they won’t continue to generate revenue but the liklihood of them as nothing more than a niche company with 2% maret share is FAST LOOMING.

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    1. I am aware of that. I think the larger issue is when will Apple get serious about the enterprise as a target? A few app store tools w/ some anemic MDM schemes suggests to me the enterprise its not on (yet) o serious focus for Apple.

      Clearly people are buying iPads and iPhones and using them at work. Its all part of the consumerization of IT party. And I think those days are numbered in the wild west fashion in vogue today.

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  5. I disagree, if anyone will capture enterprise… it will probably be WP7. The airtight integration with Sharepoint, Microsoft Office and Outlook, along with excellent remote IT policy control will likely prevail over iOS in the long term.

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  6. Since RIM now has BES serving all phone types it appears that they accept the notion that other phones are in enterprise to stay – but “own the enterprise”? A tad premature.

    Witness Sony’s little issues with hackers – and they had some pretty tight security – and are now going to be liable for some serious litigation coin, in the tune of billions.

    So, companies will take a sober second look at the so-called security of iProducts.

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    1. Let me get this straight — Sony has bad security, so people won’t trust Apple? How dumb do you think most companies are? Sure, the likelihood that they will trust the security of Sony’s Android devices is nil, but that doesn’t make it good for RIM nor bad for Apple…

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  7. And the funny thing is… Apple don’t even target Enterprise. If Apple ever seriously turn their attention to Enterprise users, the damage to the competitors would be much greater. As it is now, it’s just a fringe benefit for them.

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