RIM's Windows Mobile 6.0 Play Is a Good Defensive Move

Carl Weinschenk

The lead of this posting -- about Research in Motion's intention to introduce software that emulates the BlackBerry on Windows Mobile 6.0 devices -- writes itself: "The best defense is a good offense."

 

The news, which ITBE blogger Michael Lindenberger outlined this morning, is that RIM is creating software that enables the BlackBerry to be replicated on devices running Windows Mobile 6. This piece at Tech.co.uk does a fine job of detailing the program.

 

BlackBerry has an awesome market niche: It is the device at the center of the iconic image of an executive who can't stand to be out of touch. Indeed, even when it fails -- as it did last week -- one of the main angles of the coverage was the cadres of BlackBerry toting executives who were hard pressed to calm themselves while the services was unavailable. (We suggest therapy.)

 

RIM is one of the fortunate and smart companies that were first into a market segment. These companies become associated with the sector and get the earliest customers. Early adopters tend to spend more than those who come along later and may use the technology grudgingly.

 

These advantages don't last forever, though. Other companies regroup, react and compete. This is particularly true in sectors, such as mobility, that are growing. These long-term projections are leading the sector to be inundated with new and exciting devices -- the iPhone is due in a couple of months, for instance -- that could take small slivers out of BlackBerry's empire.


 

The competition also was stimulated by the patent litigation between RIM and NTP Group last year. The possibility that RIM would be shut down -- though remote -- made at least some IT managers begin to consider alternatives. Though the suit was settled, in some cases that initial research probably led to adoption of non-RIM options.

 

That's why this move, which goes far beyond BlackBerry Connect program that enables other devices to use the company's e-mail, makes a good deal of sense. The more that RIM can encroach on other vendors' turf by making BlackBerry an application that rides on their devices, the less those companies can threatening its core business.

 

Business is anathema to nostalgia. A company that spends too much time bemoaning the passing of an era in which it easily dominated likely is in trouble. RIM doesn't seem to have this problem. In addition to the Windows Mobile 6.0 initiative, it's courting a new market -- consumers -- with the Pearl.

 

BlackBerry still is the device for busy executives. The company, apparently, isn't passively waiting for the day when that no longer is true.



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