Apple iPhone Battles RIM BlackBerry at SAP Press Conference

Execs from IBM, SAP and Roche weigh in on the use of the Apple iPhone versus Research In Motion's BlackBerry for enterprise applications. The BlackBerry has maintained a slight edge in sales over the iPhone as of the third quarter of 2008, but competition between the two remains fierce.

For the executives from IBM, health care company Roche and others at SAP's Feb. 4 press conference, the focus was on unveiling the new SAP Business Suite 7 software-but discussion did drift for a few moments to the relative merits of the Apple iPhone and Research In Motion's BlackBerry for enterprise applications such as e-mail.

"We've put e-mail onto iPhones," Jennifer Allerton, CIO of Roche's pharma division, said in response to an audience question. "But it has a soft keypad, and we're an e-mail-intensive culture ... [We've] viewed them as not a business tool."

L??«o Apotheker, co-CEO of SAP, followed up by noting that SAP offers CRM software for both BlackBerry and iPhone, but "we see more interest in the BlackBerry."

Apple and RIM have been engaged in fierce competition for consumers' smartphone dollars, with RIM maintaining a slight lead with regard to global smartphone market share.

"CIOs like to control and lock things down more, and BlackBerry provides that," Roger Kay, an analyst with Endpoint Technologies Associates, said in an interview. "If you look at the two markets as overlapping, BlackBerry has a more solid franchise in the enterprise and Apple has a more solid franchise among consumers."

Kay added, "But Apple has come into the enterprise [via] executives who just want to use it. It was inevitable that the top guys would pester their CIOs to get them iPhones."