We’ve all had a few days now to nitpick through the Apple iPhone SDK, and one of the elements which has of course interested most of us here in the BlackBerry world is the support for Microsoft’s Exchange Server mail platform. Does this entrance in to the corporate space really pose a risk to our trusty BlackBerry’s though? Having worked with a variety of mobile email platforms and smart devices for around seven years I would have to say ‘no’. Behind the glitz, glamour and hype of glass top screens, animated menu systems and Steve Jobs wearing those same tatty Levis, black polo neck and New Balance trainers there are several key factors which, at least for the moment, prevent it seriously impacting the corporate space which RIM so effectively dominate.
There are several reasons for my coming to this conclusion. Firstly there is device cost. Over hear in the UK (like the US) the iPhone is a very expensive piece of hardware. In Europe especially we are used to dealing with our contracted airtime needs in one of two ways – we pay low line rental and higher handset costs, or we have higher line rental and heavily subsidised handsets (never the worst of both, which is what Apple have done with their carriers). Move this argument in to the corporate space where you’re purchasing not one phone, but 50 or 100 at a time – you’ll soon be kissing your budget goodbye. BlackBerry devices, although perhaps not looking as slick and trendy, are functional and affordable, just what a business needs. Secondly, IT departments are rightly frightened of an unproven corporate solution, even though their bosses (the decision makers) may have bought in to Steve Jobs sales pitch. BlackBerry is the industry standard with several incarnations of its mail server platform and an excellent track record. Like Exchange Direct Push to Windows Mobile, what possible device management, lockdown and server side reporting could Apple offer, and this is a key factor which BlackBerry copes with well.
To conclude, we can all be excited by the latest Apple keynote speech, but once Steve and Bono have left the stage let’s look at what it means carefully before we think about dropping our proven and trusty kit for latest Penthouse centrefold.