Did RIM Miss the Boat on Windows Phone?
Hyers expects Windows Phone devices to become the de facto approved devices by IT managers, though he says Nokia will need to supply the best Windows phones at the best prices, putting a shoulder to the door to keep Samsung and HTC out.
In all of this, RIM is the loser, said Hyers. Its new OS, BlackBerry 10, wont be available until the end of the year, meaning that new devices running it wont be available until 2013. A large library of applications will lag even farther behind. In the meantime, Windows Phone and iPhone devices will continue to take share from RIM.
RIM also missed an opportunity in rolling out Mobile Fusion without support for the Windows Phone operating system, as RIM waits for the latter to build up a larger user base. The growing BYOD trend is driving enterprises to re-evaluate their mobile-device management (MDM) solutions, and in the next 12 months, according to TBRI research, 60 percent of enterprises plan to replace their existing MDM solutions or add more MDM support.
If RIM doesnt support Windows Phone, then enterprises have to look elsewhere, said Hyers.
RIM will likely slowly wither, he said. My bet is that they eventually get bought, for their superb email solution, and get integrated into someone elses platform.
Pund-ITs King says that if RIM is on a steady downward trajectory, as many believe, its millions of customers will have to go somewhere. Forrester analyst Sarah Rotman Epps has argued that if Nokia were smart, it would work to steal RIM usersalready accustomed to paying for data plansinstead of going after feature-phone converts.
Though the smart money, says King, is probably on those users eventually adopting increasingly business-friendly iPhone and Android devices and services, Nokia is betting the farm on offering options enterprise customers will find more familiar and comforting.
RIM, when asked why one should find its handsets more compelling than comparably priced Nokia devices, responded in a company statement:
The mobile sector is very competitive with many new offerings. With a subscriber base over 77 million users strong and over 90 percent of the Fortune 500 using BlackBerry today, RIM is passionate about delivering a powerful, simplified and optimized user experience for BlackBerry smartphone and BlackBerry PlayBook users.
The BlackBerry platform continues to offer unmatched value, reliability and security for our users today. We continue to grow and strengthen core offerings like BBM, which is now one of the largest social mobile networks in the world with over 55 million users. At the same time, we are committed to pushing the boundaries of mobile technology, demonstrated through the integration of NFC [near-field communication] last fall into the BlackBerry platform. Looking ahead, we are focused and excited about delivering our next-generation BlackBerry platform, BlackBerry 10, in the latter half of calendar 2012 to our customers.
Nokia spokesperson Keith Novak, when asked the similar question, suggested Nokia isnt competing with RIM, so much as just trying to make good phones.
[Nokias] place in the rankings doesnt really play in to our thinkingrather, we work to make sure that we are delivering great products that people are excited about. As we do that, and more people experience what Nokia brings to the table, and share that experience with othersthats the sort of success for which we really strive.
As for Rotman Epps advice about refocusing on current RIM users, Novak said there was no need to choose.
While we do see the Windows Phone platform as a great opportunity for feature phone customers to step into the world of smartphones, we are also seeing that there are plenty of opportunities for the Lumia portfolio to attract current users of other smartphone platforms as well, he told eWEEK. So, it certainly isnt an either-or situation, but an and situation when it comes to bringing people into the Lumia fold.