RIM Finally Frees Smartphone Middleware

Michael Vizard

Onee of the more exasberating things about mobile computing in the enterprise over the years has been all the hidden cost associated with integrating smartphones with enterprise mail systems.

When you think about it, the only real reason any enterprise is going to buy smartphones for their employees is to allow them to read their e-mail while travelling. And yet because of expense of acquiring the necessary middleware software to allow that to happen, too many companies never integrated their e-mail systems with their smartphones.

But now that there's a war for market share among smartphone vendors, the people that make the middleware software for smartphones have figured out that maybe giving away that software in the hope that more business users will start using their smartphones for work a lot more is a good idea.

This partially explains, for example, Research in Motion's decision to give away the software for connecting Lotus Domino servers from IBM with BlackBerry mobile computing devices. RIM probably should have started doing this a long time ago. If it had, just about every other smartphone vendor would have been locked out of the corporate market. But when you're the market leader, you can't always see what's best for you long term. There's a pile of money to be made in the short term, after all.

Of course, more than a few customers grew to resent those middleware fees. So giving away free middleware software may be one smart move a tad too late.

Either way, Ed Brill, director of messaging and collaboration for IBM, says that middleware software for connecting smartphones to messaging systems is now basically free, thereby removing one of the last cost concerns holding up the adoption of smartphones across the entire enterprise.

And that's a very good thing.

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