Nokia is looking to challenge BlackBerry-maker Research in Motion's dominance of the mobile e-mail market with its Ovi e-mail offering. Nokia's Ovi offering targets first-time e-mail users and offers a messaging service, which enables the user to combine many different e-mails into a cell phone. Both Nokia and RIM are now targeting consumers. In order to compete for enterprise users against RIM, Nokia has since partnered with Microsoft and IBM.
HELSINKI (Reuters) - Nokia is looking to challenge Blackberry-maker Research in Motion's (RIM)
dominance in mobile e-mail as corporates cut spending amid economic
slowdown and the market focus shifts toward retail consumers.
RIM created the market for mobile e-mail and its dominant position in the
corporate sector has protected it from Nokia's attempts to crack the
market in recent years.
But a Nokia executive told Reuters the firm was seeing a good take-up of its new messaging service aimed at consumers.
"Clearly, things are heading toward the consumer market and that's
where Nokia has its strength," Tom Furlong, head of Nokia's consumer
messaging services, said.
RIM has lately focused on developing its consumer offering.
Nokia -- which controls close to 40 percent of the global mobile
phone market -- last month opened its Ovi e-mail offering, targeting
first-time e-mail users, and a messaging service, which enables the user
to combine many different e-mails into a cellphone.
"The service is up, people are utilizing it, we are getting good
traction and good follow up," Furlong said, adding the company expects
to announce its first revenue-sharing agreements with operators for the
messaging service within few months.
"With the Nokia messaging service, we are going after consumers, we
are not going head-to-head with enterprise e-mail. We are trying to put
mobile e-mail to the masses, masses of people around the globe," he said.
Nokia dropped development of its own corporate e-mail product last
year, choosing to partner with Microsoft and IBM instead while focusing
on developing phones for business users to better challenge RIM.
"The rivalry now is as intense as it has ever been, with Microsoft
and IBM on-board Nokia is now in position to take on RIM," CCS Insight
analyst Geoff Blaber said.
Nokia says the two deals enable it to mobilize close to 90 percent
of corporate e-mails without any extra investment from corporations.
"For Nokia the timing is perfect -- the economic climate is driving the message of costs," Blaber said.
When focusing on partnering with Microsoft and IBM for corporate
mobile e-mail, Nokia last year dropped support for the BlackBerry e-mail
service, but Furlong said Nokia users would in future be able to use
the service again.
"We are in the interim period of time when we have dropped support
ourselves, and BlackBerry is readying support for their service on
Nokia devices," he said.
In the enterprise market, RIM has an almost unshakeable dominant
position in North America because of its longstanding success and
popularity with large corporate clients, Duncan Stewart, industry
analyst at DSAM Consulting in Toronto, said.
"If you are the 80-90 percent market-share leader, which RIM is in
North America, it's really difficult to break that stranglehold unless
RIM stumbles. So far, any stumbles RIM has had have been on the
consumer side, not the enterprise side."
In the consumer market, users are more flippant and tastes change, which may create an opening for Nokia handsets, he said.
"Could Nokia devices come in and take market share from RIM?
Absolutely. On the other hand, it could go the other way around, too,"
(Additional reporting by Wojtek Dabrowski in Toronto, Editing by Simon Jessop and Dan Lalor)
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