RIM Partner Turns Competitor


For six years, Consilient has been a RIM partner, selling software that pushes e-mail to handheld mobile devices, including RIM’s BlackBerry. Starting Mar. 13, the St. John’s (Newfoundland)-based company is entering the fray, with the intention of becoming a major RIM competitor.

That’s a bold statement for a company whose software is used by only some 20,000 subscribers — versus Waterloo (Ont.)-based RIM’s more than 3 million. But when you consider the premise of CEO Trevor Adey’s argument, it makes a certain amount of sense.

Sure, RIM is popular, and it’s the company to beat in the mobile e-mail space. But Adey sees the BlackBerry — and the service and software that go with it — as both expensive and proprietary. “So far, this market has been for early adopters and enterprise-type users,” he says. “That’s a type of user who doesn’t have much price sensitivity.”

There’s plenty of room in the space. RIM and its smaller competitors, such as Good Technology, Visto, Seven, and Intellisync, a unit of Nokia, have among them about 10 million subscribers, Adey notes. But with some 2 billion mobile phones in use worldwide, many capable of receiving push e-mail, only the cost prevents much wider adoption of wireless e-mail, he says.

That’s where Adey maintains his company can beat the leader. RIM’s BlackBerry service costs about $50 a month from U.S. wireless services such as Deutsche Telekom’s T-Mobile and Cingular Wireless. Much of that cost, Adey says, is tied up in RIM’s proprietary software, and its network-operations center, which serves as the nerve center of its service. Adey says with the release of its latest product, dubbed Consilient Push, the monthly subscription cost can come down to $3 to $5 per user.

Getting to that cost point involves using an open mobile-messaging standard called Push-IMAP, or P-IMAP. “The carriers and device manufacturers have seen the cost involved with products like RIM’s, and they want something less expensive,” Adey says. Nokia, Oracle, and Samsung have already embraced it, and many handhelds, from Nokia, Samsung, and Palm already support the evolving standard.