How Good Technology and Others Can Compete Against RIM and Their Blackberry

RIM right now has a very dominant position in the mobile email market and doesn’t seem to be letting any of that slip anytime soon. Gartner reported a 260.3% percent increase of Blackberry shipments from 2003-2004. Gartner didn’t even factor in the 7100 success because they considered it a smart phone and not a PDA. If we factor in 7100 shipments that number could easily surpass the 300% mark. That’s a 3 fold increase within 1 year, a mind-bogging number if you consider that the market is not even close to being mature.

Now even with those numbers RIM knows that it can’t become complacent and ride the wave of success. Companies like Good Technology and Visto are pushing hard to enter the market with their own versions of push email and full PIM synchronization technology which can be installed on different hardware and software platforms. But let’s not kid ourselves, both of those companies are not even close to over throwing RIM. Still the threat may be low now but RIM knows that things can change and change fast especially in the field of new and emerging technology. We are seeing a strong push by RIM to have the Blackberry technology become the standard platform for push email with its ‘Blackberry Connect’ technology. Blackberry email is already on a few handsets including Siemens SK65, Nokia 6820/6822, Motorola’s MPx220 and they just unveiled Blackberry Connect on the Palm Treo at GSM World in Cannes, France. Even with the hardware division bringing in 70% of the revenue, RIM knows they can’t keep their software propriety forever and they are doing the right move by licensing their software.

Now I didn’t intend to write this article to gloat about how RIM is so dominant. I wrote this article about how I think Good Technology and Visto can become players. I love my Blackberry but I also love lower prices, and lower prices is a result of more competition. The article is going to concentrate more on Good Technology because I believe at this moment they are more established and have a clearer business outlook.

Here is a list of hurdles that I think Good needs to overcome to become successful:

1) Blackberry brand name, let’s face it the Blackberry is the must have device. The Blackberry brand has become synonymous with wireless email. You have celebrities like Jay-Z and Paris Hilton sporting one and guys in corporate environments wanting one because if they don’t they feel less important. Trust me, I’ve seen it grown men and women wanting one just to feel important. Other than Apple’s iPod I can’t think of another electronic device that is more popular today than the Blackberry. Companies like Good Technology and Visto may opt for a less public image and instead provide hardware vendors and enterprises the solution for push email but that just does not work. These companies need to have a more public image, brand their technology and get some awareness. I have people from corporations and some government agencies email me asking questions regarding Blackberry deployment. They know that Blackberry is proven and don’t even bother with looking at other solutions.

2) Blackberry Market Penetration. RIM has had a few years to develop their technology and sign up clients. You have many corporations and government agencies using Blackberry Enterprise Server for a few years now, why would they want to switch to Good technology? Deutsche Bank has something like 1,000 + Blackberry handhelds, they will not be switching anytime soon even though Good or another company may have a better product. It’s great that Good targets enterprises and large companies but it is war they can not win. I think they should focus on bringing push email to the regular Joe or Jane. Obviously the profit margins would be lower but Good is not going to beat RIM at its own game. Blackberry plans are around $40 a month which is fairly expensive to the average consumer. I have no problem spending $200-$400 on a cell phone but $40 a month extra for Blackberry email/internet is pretty steep. Good needs to find a way to lower the price to attract your average consumer but still keep the wireless carriers happy. When Good has a foothold in the less lucrative consumer market that is when I think they can start on trying to steal some of RIM’s enterprise customers.

3) Retail and Manufacturing Partnerships. If I wanted to go buy a Blackberry, it’ll take me 10 minutes max, just walk down the street to the local store and plunk my credit card down and boom Blackberry in my hands. I can’t do that with Good, they need to develop their own hardware which I can buy it directly from a retailer. Dell was supposed to make a branded Good PDA but I am not sure if that is still true. Good is going in the right direction by teaming up with HP to bring its technology pre-bundled on HP’s upcoming PDA the iPaq Messenger. Even with HP’s help, it’s still going to be a tough hill to climb, especially when you consider that RIM already has their technology on devices from Nokia, Palm, Siemens, and Motorola. Now it’s just a rat race for both companies to try to get their technology licensed on as many hardware vendors as possible. RIM will still have an edge, they have the brand name and experience to convince hardware vendors to go with them instead of Good.

Those are my points, take it for what they are worth. I am not a Business professor at Harvard but I do think that my points hold some validity. I am not a fan of how Good is trying to compete head on with RIM. There website even lists some points on why they think they are “Better Than Blackberry”, news flash but when a company needs to state why they are better than another company it usually isn’t good news. Good needs to focus on building its own brand and not worry about RIM. They need to try reach to the previous non comsumer, make wireless email affordable for the masses and try to commoditize the technology to weaken the Blackberry brand name.

Comments [27 Responses]

pdaconnect
February 18th, 2005 at 10:46 pm

I like your effort in supporting a looser. Nice try though.

Duch
February 19th, 2005 at 11:30 am

Hi GT,

You make some good points aswell, everyone is going to look at the situation differently and I appreciate you posting your 2 cents.

I just had a few things to say about your entry:

1) The reason why BB Connect is more popular in Europe is because the carriers have asked for it and they were the one’s that were pressuring RIM the most. Im sure the US carriers will start carrying some BB Connect phones in the future but are probably pretty iffy about the whole NTP lawsuit and are probably waiting on the sidelines to see how that thing develops.

2) BB Connect took forever to come to the Palm, and yes it is still in beta testing right now but from the pictures I saw it looked pretty complete. I don’t know which party to blame to blame but I am willing to bet it could be mostly Palm’s fault especially with their long history of delays ie. Cobalt OS.

3) BB Connect may have less features but the primary reason people use a Blackberry is for email. I myself use Thunderbird because of security issues so I can’t take advantage of syncing my contacts appointments, etc in Outlook. For the most part I believe that users won’t care if it is a watered down version and who knows in the future RIM will probably improve BB Connect.

4) Im not too familiar with Good products, so its very much possible that Good has ‘Superior user interface, easier fleet and user management’. I will be getting a demo of Good next week so I will take your word for it now.

5) Good may have a partnership with Verizon, but how many carrier partnerships does RIM have? A recent article with co-CEO of RIM states that he wants 180 carriers by the end of this year, 80 more carriers than they have right now. Good is definantly going in the right track but they still have a long way too go, RIM’s popularity isnt slowing down anytime soon.

6) RIM has grown too big now for a possible buy out by another hardware company, yes it is still possible but it’ll cost the company a lot of dollars. So companies right now have a catch-22 situation, if they do not support Blackberry Connect they may lose out on customers that will buy a Blackberry device solely for push email, doesnt even matter if the Blackberry is a lesser device. Now if they do support it they have to pay RIM licensing fees but now they may retain some of the customers that would of bought a Blackberry solely for email purposes. Take the Palm Treo for example, it is very obvious that the Treo is a better hardware device with superior PDA functionality but because RIM has superior email functionality they are the must have device and not the Treo.

pdaconnect
February 19th, 2005 at 10:58 pm

Hey GT this website is called “blackberrycool” not “goodcool” and its staying that way for a some time to come. Take your “good” talking to somewhere else and stop wasting your time marketing a stupid product.

GT
February 20th, 2005 at 10:18 am

pdaconnect..RIM must love you and those like you. You DON’T know the market, you DON’T know the competition and you DON’T know the wireless space. You are the exact customer RIM is gunning for: ignorant of the available options. You, and those like you, are the reason RIM will survive all of this. That is until those like you see the next cool phone that won’t run RIM and you start posting on “razrcool” and forget all about Blackberry. Therein lies the problem for RIM.

I am not marketing to for Good. I am expressing an opinion, that if you do a little research, you would find is not only my way of thinking, but runs through the industry that Good has the best shot at dethroning RIM in this space. This article is an editorial. I would send you a Word document with the information, but you wouldn’t be able to open it on your Blackberry.

GT
February 20th, 2005 at 8:31 pm

For someone who claims to know so much about GoodLink, you are proving your ignorance. Good has the exact same government FIPS security acceptance as Blackberry. Same security model. Not my opinion, fact:

http://www.idgef.com/demomobile2/demonstrators/page914-716365.html

2. Hmm..companies like Visa, Dell, Deloitt, UPS, WalMart, Texas Instruments, etc can definately say that GoodLink is tried and true. Sure, there aren’t 2.5 million users of GoodLink. But then again, GoodLink isn’t trying to get Paris Hilton or P-Diddy to “prove” there value. My point, which you are making for me, is that RIM is under the impression that “we are Blackberry, they aren’t” is going to continue to be successful. I tend to disagree with that notion and think it is very dangerous for their continued success.

3. Palm runs on PalmOS..as do other handhelds. PocketPC runs on different handhelds. Blackberry runs on Blackberry, period. The pure definition of propietary. If their software only runs on their hardware, they..are..propietary. Your analogy of PCs, again, makes my point. You want to run Blackberry Operating System, you have to be on a Blackberry device. You want to run PocketPC, you have a ton of choices in hardware platforms. Palm doesn’t manufacture software, PalmSource (different company) does. MSFT doesn’t develop devices, but their PocketPC software runs on a myriad of devices. It works EXACTLY the same as the PC world…except in Blackberry’s case.

4. Over 28,000 third party applications are available for Palm. If someone wants to develop for RIM, they have to license the OS from RIM. Sure, it is Java, but before you publish an app for BB, you have to pay RIM a license fee. Hence, the major delay in BB connect.

5. No argument there. The BB is an amazingly durable device, especially when compared to Palm. But I can drop my pocket calculator and it won’t break, but if I drop my PC, chances are I will have problems. And, Symbol (www.symbol.com) has fixed that with ruggedized devices that run an industry standard PalmOS operating system. No excuses and pure reliability.

pdaconnect
February 20th, 2005 at 9:23 pm

1. This is ridiculous. I never said Good is unsecure. I said Palm is unsecure. Read properly. And by the way I didn’t see any government agency using GoodLink. Oh may be they didn’t know about it.

2. I am not buying blackberry because they are blackberry. I and many others like me are buying blackberry because they are good. This is the point you are missing.

3. No your argument is invalid. Now with BBconnect, blackberry email software runs on many other platform. So its not propietary any more. period. So great Palm source now makes OS. Didn’t you buy palm products before they decided to split up? Also PC is different from handhelds. Thats what I am trying to get into your head.

4. Totally incorrect. You can download BB OS from their site and develop software for free. The only place you have to pay is when you use their signed APIs. And just so you know, it has nothing to do with blackberry connect. If you want I can send you “Hello World” program for free ;-)

5. The point is you don’t have to carry your PC around with you (unless you are doing weightlifting. might be better if you use dumb bells instead). You have to carry handheld devices around all the time. Thats what they are meant for. And don’t tell me I shouldn’t drop it on the ground, and not let even the slightest drop of water to spill on it. Its stupid. Its should work. period. No point for to buy a 700$ product that will not work if mistakenly dropped. Then sorry its not for me.

And thanks for agreeing with me that BB is a “amazingly durable device” :-)

pdaconnect
February 21st, 2005 at 11:19 am

GT… you are right. I shouldn’t waste my time trying to prove an obvious point that BB’s are better. I only did this because of mir’s criticism that I wasn’t being constructive. The point is I know my choices (and I knew them for years) and so do all other users. But they use their BB because they love it. And you are not going to change that.

johnblackberry
February 22nd, 2005 at 3:01 pm

The majority of Good’s customers use GoodLink solution on their Blackberrys. These people have opted out of RIM software, while still using the Blackberry device. RIM software, in fact, can only be used on the Blackberry; that’s a case in point dead end propietary provider. Blackberry was the first, but now every major hardware provider is coming out with their own smartphones. Beside Good offering superior software, and having the majority of Fortune 100 companies switching to GoodLink, it is an industry standards based solution that can be used cross-platform (on any device including Blackberry). Good is doing very well; it is Blackberry that will need plenty of luck to not lose out on their position in a market which is only 5% tapped.

bjj
February 24th, 2005 at 11:55 am

Ed

1. What does flexibility have to do with Battery Life? The flexibility that is being referred to here, has to do with the ability to choose different devices, from different hardware manufacturers and still get the data you need. If you think that RIM will successfully compete longterm in the hardware space vs the likes of HP, Dell, Nokia, Kyocera, PalmOne, Samsung, HTC, Motorolla, Siemens……. you are crazy! RIM will have to port their OS to other devices if they are going to be successful long term, and they know it, but are just not ready to admit it. 70% of their revenue comes from hardware! That is a tough pill to swallow. Blackberry connect is a truly sad attempt at doing this, and is designed to drive people back to RIM’s hardware.

2. As long as you are on the battery life issue. The reason that the battery lasts so long on the RIM devices is the limited functionality that you get with the RIM hardware. That and how tightly the hardware and software are coupled, gives them a definite advantage, one they won’t have when they move off of their own hardware.

3. There are multiple handhelds available without camera’s, as a matter of fact most of the new handhelds being released by manufactureres come with a camera and cameraless version.

Lastly

PDAConnect, you really come off as a closed minded, foul mouth, idiot, that does not understand the purpose of sites like this.
Have you even tried another solution/product, Good or otherwise? Any technologist worth their salt experiments with solutions, educates themselves and then makes a decision about the products they use. They don’t just choose a product based on who has the largest billboard at the airport.

Marvin
February 25th, 2005 at 1:04 pm

This thread has been very interesting to read.
I’m not here to glorify one company and belittle the other; as most of you have been doing.
From my own personal experience with PDAs that deliver email, BlackBerry is so far, and by far, the best device that does that. BlackBerry is the best device on the market today for serious business people who are looking for reliable email and calendar functionalities on the go, without caring for all the bells and whistles.

If Good deploys its software on a device that beats BlackBerry’s ease-of-use, and reliability, I’ll be the first one to buy it, trust me. And I don’t care at all for an MP3 player, a camera, or whatever funky features might be out there. I got other devices that perform those functions very well.

GT has some very good and valid points, no doubt. But he sounds like a spokesman, or a marketing person for Good. He/she doesn’t even want to admit that BlackBerry has some great advantages over Good, or any company that’s in the wireless email realm. PDAconnect, on the other side, doesn’t really explain why he likes BlackBerry so much.
Ok, it’s great, but why?

What the future holds? That would be very interesting to watch. Good has been doing ok so far, but they are not, by any means comparable to RIM. At least not yet.

So far, RIM has been doing a great job, and they are no doubt looking ahead and planning very well, whether by introducing new devices, or partnerships with other hardware manufacturers.
Good has a long way to go to catch up with RIM and BlackBerry. From brand recognition, to secure, reliable, and flexible, software and hardware. RIM has got it.
Good will no doubt steal a piece of the pie that RIM has baked over the years. Nobody can change that. But whether it’ll get the bigger chunk, I highly doubt that.

Too early to judge how the picture will look like in a year or two. Only time can tell.

Kelvin
March 8th, 2005 at 10:38 pm

This has been a really interesting thread to have stumbled across! I have not revisited Good’s product offering since implementing the BlackBerry solution 18 months ago. The reason I chose to implement RIM’s solution was because we are a global Lotus Notes shop. I had spoken briefly with a Good sales rep when I first looked at their solution, and they mentioned they were about 12 months (if that) out from a Lotus Notes solution - can anybody here tell me if Good has made good (pardon the pun) on this?

Kelvin
March 11th, 2005 at 9:02 am

Thanks GT — any idea if it’s still on their product development team’s radar screen?

Mobility
December 21st, 2005 at 9:48 pm

Not sure if anyone is still reading this thread or not.

Several things have happened over this year which continue the stir in the market about the future position that RIM and BB will carry and maintain.

My perspective as merely a business user is the following:

*I used to use Treos and other Palm devices b/c of all of the bells and whistles offerings that came with those devices. Trouble was, while they had several features, they really weren’t very good at any one thing. To make matters worse, I believe that all of the packed features into one device just increases the chance for the device and OS to crash - -something I experienced several times with my Treo.

*Finally, I dropped my Treo (it fell out of my pocket and screen totally cracked) and the cost to replace was ridiculous.

*I decided to try the Blackberry mainly b/c of its reputation as a “blue collar” device that focus’ on a handful of things and brings industry standard security as well as a reliable device that was durable and did not run out of batteries every 3 hours or less.

*I am proud to say that recently I decided to get an upgrade to a product with bluetooth and after very thorough evaluations of what was out on the market, the acquisition pricing of the products, and the features that I needed as opposed to just would like to have - I bought another Blackberry (7105t). This thing ROCKS!! It is phone first (something that I wanted) and contradictory to my initial belief, I love the smart SureType technology. The screen is tremendous, the form factor is perfect and I have a phone, email, PIM device that is awesome. I got this BB for roughly 1/3 of the price it would have cost me to get the Treo 650 or other newer devices.

*Would it be nice to have a camera or more memory to hold music and other things? Sure. But in all of my research around getting the best available device for me (a Sales Professional in the Computer Industry), one constant message that kept coming back was that the devices that tried to be all in one typically had pitfalls in one area or another.

So, I am one of those who will continue to buy a Blackberry for phone/email/PIM; and a Canon camera for pictures and an iPod for music - - until I find someone or something that is able to offer an option that can meet the high standards set by the vendors who lead the industry in their specific expertise areas…

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