RIM the new Netscape?

Comments

It was 1994 when a company called Mosaic Communications Corporations was founded by Marc Andreessen and Jim Clark. The names should ring a bell, TIME magazine labeled both of them ‘The Golden Geeks’. They were the equivalent of today’s Larry Page and Sergey Brin of Google. Andreessen and Clark were the developers of Netscape Navigator which would spur the early commercialization of the World Wide Web. In 1995, Netscape had a successful IPO which saw the stock climb all the way to $75 from the initial offering price of $14.


Now what does all of this have to do with RIM and the Blackberry device – Everything! RIM is in the exact same position that Netscape was in 1995 where they were by far the dominant factor in the market and helped create the mobile email revolution. Microsoft is all taking notice, earlier we posted the leak memo from Microsoft CTO which confirmed that Microsoft is aggressively trying to take RIM’s place in the push-email market. And when Microsoft wants something bad enough they usually get it. Their usual war plan isn’t pretty but they don’t have to be when they seem to have an endless amount of resources and money. They threw a whole bunch of money in Internet Explorer and that became so dominant that Netscape deemed defeat and publicly released their source code. They did it with Windows NT, Microsoft Money, Exchange, Office and are now doing it with Xbox, MSN Search, and Windows Mobile.

So what can RIM do to stop Microsoft? Right now they seem to be on the right path where they are trying to partner with other hardware manufacturers and become the standard. They are also aggressively signing up carriers which love RIM because of the extra money it receives from data charges. Anyone that has worked with wireless carriers know they are very opposed to change and rather not touch anything that is working for them. RIM has also built a quality brand that consumers are very loyal too, they know it works, emails are secure, and the hardware and OS is simple to use. But when it comes to technology, it’s hard to tell how far loyalty extends with consumers.

Another parallel that we can take from Netscape vs. Microsoft was that Microsoft are experts at leveraging one product’s success to help another, even if it’s borderline illegal. The nail in the coffin for Netscape is when Microsoft started shipping Internet Explorer on Windows. Experts users would download and install Netscape but the majority of casual users felt fine with Internet Explorer and saw no need. They are currently doing the same thing, leveraging the popularity of Exchange to help out Windows Mobile by including free built in “push-email” functionality. And the scenario will repeat itself, you will see some companies that don’t see the need to spend thousands of extra dollars for Blackberry Exchange Server and other companies that can justify the extra costs to get something that has been proven secure and reliable.

Time will tell who comes out on top, hopefully RIM will wins this unlike what happened when Microsoft went after Netscape.

  • MarvinK

    I wouldn’t say they are like Netscape. I’d say they are like Tivo:

    1. They give lip service to Blackberry Connect–but if they can’t get it done. I don’t know if they are pricing themselves out of the market or have too many demanding requirements of partners (both like Tivo–who is losing DirecTV and is has done poorly at adopting others because of their pricing and other demands).

    2. They have industry leading ease-of-use and reliability, and seem to think that will be enough to keep their lead forever. Tivos are great–and easy to use–but they have been terribly slow to adopt advanced features. Worse yet, they can’t get their third-parties (like DirecTV) to adopt those features, at all. Is the Palm or PocketPC Blackberry Connect client going to be heavily crippled and lag far behind Blackberry’s first party feature-set? Is there ever going to be a consumer-targeted version with more multimedia features? Can they get a decent set of third-party software choices now that they finally have the 8700 with decent processing power?

    Don’t try to kid yourself about Netscape’s superiority for expert users. By the time IE4 & 5 came out, Netscape lagged behind in most aspects. People who still used Netscape, used it because they ran something other than Windows or hated Microsoft–not for its functionality.

  • MarvinK

    I wouldn’t say they are like Netscape. I’d say they are like Tivo:

    1. They give lip service to Blackberry Connect–but if they can’t get it done. I don’t know if they are pricing themselves out of the market or have too many demanding requirements of partners (both like Tivo–who is losing DirecTV and is has done poorly at adopting others because of their pricing and other demands).

    2. They have industry leading ease-of-use and reliability, and seem to think that will be enough to keep their lead forever. Tivos are great–and easy to use–but they have been terribly slow to adopt advanced features. Worse yet, they can’t get their third-parties (like DirecTV) to adopt those features, at all. Is the Palm or PocketPC Blackberry Connect client going to be heavily crippled and lag far behind Blackberry’s first party feature-set? Is there ever going to be a consumer-targeted version with more multimedia features? Can they get a decent set of third-party software choices now that they finally have the 8700 with decent processing power?

    Don’t try to kid yourself about Netscape’s superiority for expert users. By the time IE4 & 5 came out, Netscape lagged behind in most aspects. People who still used Netscape, used it because they ran something other than Windows or hated Microsoft–not for its functionality.