Google is shelving its Gmail App for BlackBerry to focus on mobile Web browsing software for its core messaging application. The news comes as Research In Motion struggles.
Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) Nov. 9 said it is giving up the ghost on its Gmail App for BlackBerry
to focus on
improving Gmail in the mobile Web browser.
Google launched Gmail for BlackBerry as a native
application users install on their Research In Motion (NASDAQ:RIMM) BlackBerry
smartphones. As of Nov. 22, the company will cease supporting the app,
which means users won't be able to download it.
Existing Gmail for BlackBerry users will be able to continue
using the app as installed on their phones, but there won't be any more updates
or maintenance help if the app breaks down. Google Apps for Business,
Government and Education customers using Google Apps Connector for BlackBerry
Enterprise Server will continue to be supported.
"Over this past year, we've focused efforts on
building a great Gmail experience in the mobile browser and will continue
investing in this area," Google said in a statement, adding that BlackBerry
users can continue to access Gmail through the mobile Web app here
in their BlackBerry Web browser.
The news comes as RIM is hemorrhaging smartphone market
share worldwide as consumers and businesses increasingly choose Apple's
(NASDAQ:AAPL) iPhone and handsets based on Google's Android operating system.
According to the latest IDC statistics, RIM has lost 5 percentage points of global
market share from the third quarter 2010 through the third quarter this year
dropping from 15 percent to 10 percent.
Delays of new phones and service outages aren't helping
either; the company just experienced its second outage in as many months. In
October, BlackBerry service crashed worldwide for three days. On Nov. 9, the
service went wonky again, with users in Europe, the Middle East, India and
Africa struggling to get email and browse the Web.
And now Google's slap in the face to BlackBerry, via
Gmail. Industry analyst Jack Gold said that while Google's move is not good
news for RIM, he wasn't sure how many BlackBerry users use the native Gmail
"I suspect there will be some BB users who see this
negatively," Gold told eWEEK
. "But frankly, most business users
connect to corporate mail via BES [BlackBerry Enterprise Server] (and companies
usually turn off the ability to connect to personal email), and many consumers
probably don't use the enhanced Gmail feature anyway (instead just using the
BIS/email client). So this may not be such a big thing."
Current Analysis analyst Avi Greengart said the move is par
for the course for Google, but bad news for RIM, adding:
"The BlackBerry brand is
nearly synonymous with mobile email, but its non-BES email capabilities have
long been just average. RIM needs to take this opportunity to build
best-in-class support for Gmail directly into the native BlackBerry email