With the unveiling of the 3G iPhone today, and with so many of the new features matching the strength of the RIM (NSDQ: RIMM) BlackBerry, it begs the question: will the 3G iPhone be the BlackBerry killer? Already, critics have been speculating that the iPhone will eat into RIM’s business, but now it seems inevitable. To be sure, Apple (NSDQ: AAPL) has a way to go. In the first quarter, Research In Motion sold the most smartphones in the U.S., garnering a 42 percent marketshare, easily beating Apple, which ranked second with a 20 percent marketshare, according to Gartner.
But Apple announced today that it is making significant progress. To date, it has sold 6 million iPhones, and with the price cut of the new 3G iPhone dropping to $199, and other enterprise-like features in the works, the difference between the flashy newcomer and the institutional BlackBerry seem to be fading.
Perhaps the biggest feature announced today that may scare BlackBerry is that Apple is enabling push support — something that up until now had been BlackBerry’s keystone offering. This means that a person can receive an email, get an alert, receive an update from eBay (NSDQ: EBAY) without having to be in the application, or without having to run it in the background. Microsoft (NSDQ: MSFT) provides these features on Windows Mobile, but solves it by running the application in the background, which drains the battery and slows down the device’s performance. The push service will be available to enterprises in September, and available to developers next month.
This announcement led to Frank Mena, a research analyst of Envisioneering, who happened to be sitting next to me during the keynote to proclaim: “They took away the only advantage that BlackBerry had. They solved the Achilles heal.”
In addition to push, there’s other critical functions, like offering Microsoft Exchange via ActiveSync. Steve Jobs said during the keynote that already “35 percent of the Fortune 500” has participated in the beta tests.