Carl Weinschenk spoke with Teney Takahashi, senior market analyst, the Radicati Group. The firm just released a report, "Wireless E-mail Market, 2006 - 2010."
Weinschenk: What are the prospects for the mobile e-mail market?
Takahashi: I think the growth potential for this market is very encouraging. It is moving from a nice corporate market for high-end business users to a more mainstream broader market including business users of all types and at all levels of the organization as well as "prosumers" - individuals who buy for themselves without assistance from their company - and consumers. First of all, with the latest Microsoft Exchange Server 2003 Service Pack 2, direct push was included. It enables features somewhat similar to BlackBerry on many wireless devices. Prior to this release, wireless e-mail was a premium application, aimed at the most important executives and the mobile sales forces. This updates it to the broader mainstream market.
Weinschenk: How are the players dealing with such abrupt change?
Takahashi: I think right now the market is kind of struggling to define how it is going to best proceed. Key players are the wireless device manufacturers and the vendors of wireless e-mail software or solutions. Though in some cases - RIM, for instance - both the devices and software are from the same company. You [also] have wireless carriers who are important because they sell devices to end users and provide services and also offer attractive bundles. They really have more direct contact with end users. Over the last few years, on one hand you have dominant players like RIM, and on the other hand folks such as wireless carriers who also want a piece of the pie. Wireless carriers are struggling to establish themselves higher up in the value chain.
Weinschenk: What impact will there be from the emergence of Microsoft as a player in this sector?
Takahashi: RIM is doing a pretty good job with BlackBerry Connect, which allows third parties to license the BlackBerry solution. At the same time, there is a limited selection of BlackBerry devices. [Some] corporations will go with Windows Mobile devices because they have a lot of users with different needs. Such selection is very important for customers that are rather finicky. I don't think at this point there will be [a lot of head-to-head competition between RIM and Microsoft]. If you look at RIM growth, especially in the year since the NTP lawsuit was settled, [it shows a lot of potential new subscribers]. Both companies are going to grow very quickly regardless of the competition.