Research in Motion released a press release this morning about its plans to put out what sounds like BlackBerry emulation software for Windows Mobile 6 that will enable select devices to emulate the BlackBerry OS allowing them to run BlackBerry applications and connect to BlackBerry Enterprise Server (BES).
Is it just me, or, does this sound an awful lot like BlackBerry Connect?
I know that BlackBerry Connect focuses primarily on allowing thrid-party devices to synch email, calendar, and contacts with BES and that this new BlackBerry virtualization software will allow many other BlackBerry applications to run on Windows Mobile 6 devices as well. The big question for me, however, is if BlackBerry Connect never really caught on offering the main applications everyone used a BlackBerry for, will BlackBerry virtualization catch on offering some of the lesser used BlackBerry applications in addition.
I think that RIM will continue to have the same problems that they do with BlackBerry Connect. Unless they:
1. Make sure that they offer it on enough devices to make a difference.
2. Make sure that Windows Mobile 6 is stable enough not to push users to the BlackBerry in the first place.
Who cares about emulation software for Windows Mobile 6. How about for the iPhone?
This idea is really fundamentally different then BB-connect as it is today. BB-connect lets you use some of the blackberry functionality through the already existing windows mobile programs. As I understand it this idea is to allow BlackBerry OS and its applications to run on a Win-mo device. If RIM can really pull it off and get it working with a large number of the already existing BB rip-offs ( ie. Blackjack, Q etc…) then I bet they could get a lot of people using it.
RIM still makes most of its money on BlackBerry handset sales. I wonder, however, if RIM starting to realize that handsets eventually will become commodities and that they need to position themselves moreso as a service provider.
In my opinion BlackBerry Connect never really took off because of the fact that RIM made so much off of device sales, they never really needed BlackBerry Connect to take off.
Might the tides be changing?
Mark you are right. In fact what RIM is working on reminds me of a virtualized version of “BlackBerry Built-In” from a few years back where there was actually RIM hardware that would go inside of 3rd party devices.
The bigger question is would most people buy a Windows Mobile device that could emulate a BlackBerry, or, just buy a BlackBerry.
Maybe this is how Sprint will “attempt” to keep their BB users. Won’t work with me, they need to get with RIM’s program.
Are you kidding? This is reinventing the wheel if it works. Think about it, it’s just like Parallels or Boot Camp on Apple computers. People are switching in mass droves because they can get the best of both worlds.
This will cause a mass exodus to switch to devices which offer more services, and higher speed connections. I know that personally, I would love a BlackJack styled phone with 3G with the BlackBerry OS in addition to WM6.
Contrary to what everyone thinks, BlackBerry isn’t the end all device. It doesn’t stream audio/video, like WMP on WM does. Excel, Word, and PowerPoint work hand in hand with WM6, but not on a BB. Also, remember that it is still a Windows world, so a phone that pairs with a persons computer without the need for extra software is often what people are looking for (Vista syncs with WM devices out of the box).
This is going to cripple BlackBerry sales, but if they can find a way to charge for this service, they might be able to find a balance. They wouldn’t be offering this, if they weren’t confident in their financial stability for the future.
Personally, it would be great to have a wider variety of hardware manufacturers to choose from, but still be able to keep all of the BlackBerry’s features. Heck, this thing will even do 3rd party apps.
Where do I pickup my WM6 AT&T phone?
@Nick Starr – “This is going to cripple BlackBerry sales, but if they can find a way to charge for this service, they might be able to find a balance.”
That statement makes you lose your credibility – RIM gets a royalty of about $7 from the carrier every month for each active enterprise BB subscriber account. That “service” or recurring piece of their revenue (currently about 20% of total revenue) is very high margin, probably about 80% on a gross basis. Even though the consumer BIS accounts are more like $4-5 per sub per month, It would be great to drive cross platform adoption and drive that revenue stream.
Also look at the global handset market – about 1 billion handsets total and the smartphone segment is about 15% or 150 million devices (and growing quickly). RIM shipped about 6.4 million devices last year. There are lots of manufacturers around the world making WM 5 and 6 devices. Plenty of growth ahead for both platforms! People buy the Blackberries because of the service, like Nick Starr said, not the other way around. Now anyone who wants a smartphone can have the Blackberry experience if they choose and RIM gets recurring high margin revenue for it. (I happen to believe as well that the devices RIM comes up with will continue to improve in functionality, so they should do just fine in selling the devices themselves)
There are risks to this strategy, but RIM believes they have a superior service offering and want to show people that. This has the potential to be a brilliant move on RIM’s part. Basically they are trying to become the premier data dealer (a service provider) that moves bits and bytes very efficiently from device to network.