For as long as we have been waiting for BlackBerry Connect to come to the Treo, it looks like the promise has actually been fulfilled. Earlier today, BlackBerry maker Research in Motion and Singapore based operator SingTel announced the availability of Blackberry Connect for the Palm Treo 650.
SingTel is not the first operator to announce BlackBerry Connect, however they are the first to offer BlackBerry Connect on the Treo, arguably the number two smartphone/PDA device to the BlackBerry. This announcement has some analyst wondering if BlackBerry Connect will actually cut into Blackberry device sales.
The short answer to this question is ‘Probably’, however I don’t think that this is necessarily a bad thing for RIM. In fact, I think that for RIM to move to the next stage of it’s evolution, it has to start to transform from a hardware provider, RIM makes over 70% of it’s revenue from device sales, to a service provider.
Lets take a look at two companies. Microsoft and Apple. Microsoft doesn’t make computers, they make software that runs on just about every brand of computer, including Apple computers just recently, on the market. Apple, on the other hand, makes software that runs only on Apple computers. For every Macintosh sold that runs Apple’s OS, something like 89 to 93 PCs that run Windows are sold. Needless to say, Microsoft makes way more money selling licenses to their OS than Apple makes selling their computers.
If RIM could sell a 90 or so BlackBerry Connect licenses for every BlackBerry device that they sell, they would gladly give up market share in the handheld device market. The fact that you can already get most BlackBerry devices for next to nothing when you sign up for a service plan means that both Research in Motion and their carriers would rather the recurring monthly fees for BlackBerry service to the one time device revenue anyway.
Now when you look at the big picture BlackBerry device sales are not going down anytime soon. If anything, the number of units shipped should continue to increase quarter over quarter for several years. A better question to ask is will Research in Motion loose market share once BlackBerry Connect becomes common place. The answer to that question is undoubtedly yes, however, that is probably part of the long term plan.