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

63 Comments

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.

  • Kelvin

    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

    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

    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?

  • GT

    Nope. No Notes solution from Good yet.

  • GT

    Nope. No Notes solution from Good yet.

  • Kelvin

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

  • Kelvin

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

  • GT

    My rep tells me about a year out

  • GT

    My rep tells me about a year out

  • Mobility

    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…

  • Mobility

    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…

  • Datawalla

    Well, it’s been a few months since Mobility’s comments, but I must concur with him. I bought a BlackBerry 7100i to use as a “cell phone on steroids” since I already had a Palm UX50 pda that has a camera (although lo-rez), expandable memory, and the ability to play mp3′s and video. Now I find that I seldom carry it anymore unless it is to use it as a (very expensive) mp3 player. Everything that I used to use the UX50 for on a daily basis, I can do on the 7100i, and I don’t have to carry a separate phone. Before I bought the UX50, I had looked at the Treo and talked to a co-worker at the time who used one, but I didn’t like the form factor (same reason I never considered a BlackBerry before the 7000 series) and it seemed to have usability issues. I never even considered Windows SmartPhones, because I barely tolerate Windows on my desktop; I won’t consider opting for a phone that uses it as well. By the way, not having a touch screen is one of the reasons BB’s are so rugged. I thought I would miss it after using Palm pda’s for years (the UX50 is my third), but by the time I’d used my 7100i for a week, I actually appreciate not having to pull out a stylus to perform simple tasks and being able to use the unit single-handedly. I’m by no means locked into BlackBerry’s emotionally or in any other way, but I don’t see going to any smartphone that’s going to make me use two hands, as most pda-based smartphones do. It’ll be interesting to see where Good goes.

  • Datawalla

    Well, it’s been a few months since Mobility’s comments, but I must concur with him. I bought a BlackBerry 7100i to use as a “cell phone on steroids” since I already had a Palm UX50 pda that has a camera (although lo-rez), expandable memory, and the ability to play mp3′s and video. Now I find that I seldom carry it anymore unless it is to use it as a (very expensive) mp3 player. Everything that I used to use the UX50 for on a daily basis, I can do on the 7100i, and I don’t have to carry a separate phone. Before I bought the UX50, I had looked at the Treo and talked to a co-worker at the time who used one, but I didn’t like the form factor (same reason I never considered a BlackBerry before the 7000 series) and it seemed to have usability issues. I never even considered Windows SmartPhones, because I barely tolerate Windows on my desktop; I won’t consider opting for a phone that uses it as well. By the way, not having a touch screen is one of the reasons BB’s are so rugged. I thought I would miss it after using Palm pda’s for years (the UX50 is my third), but by the time I’d used my 7100i for a week, I actually appreciate not having to pull out a stylus to perform simple tasks and being able to use the unit single-handedly. I’m by no means locked into BlackBerry’s emotionally or in any other way, but I don’t see going to any smartphone that’s going to make me use two hands, as most pda-based smartphones do. It’ll be interesting to see where Good goes.