RIM right now has a very dominant position in the mobile email market and doesnâ€™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 didnâ€™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. Thatâ€™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 canâ€™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 letâ€™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 â€˜Blackberry Connectâ€™ 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 didnâ€™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, letâ€™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 Appleâ€™s iPod I canâ€™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 donâ€™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. Itâ€™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 RIMâ€™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 HPâ€™s upcoming PDA the iPaq Messenger. Even with HPâ€™s help, itâ€™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 itâ€™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 â€œBetter Than Blackberryâ€, news flash but when a company needs to state why they are better than another company it usually isnâ€™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.