Microsofts Mobile Device Manager Is No BlackBerry Killer

Opinion: The Microsoft System Center Mobile Device Manager 2008 is about as likely as to kill off the BlackBerry as the Tampa Bay Devil Rays winning the 2007 World Series.

How many times do we need to go over this? Just because Microsoft enters a market, doesnt mean that its going to own it.

The latest "Microsoft is coming! Microsoft is coming! Run for your lives!" rumor can be seen in the recent report that Microsoft announced plans for its System Center Mobile Device Manager 2008 on Oct. 23.

Where to start? First, weve been down the "Microsoft is going to kill off RIM (Research in Motion) and its BlackBerry" rumor road before. In 2005, the RIM killer was supposed to be Windows Mobile 5.0 with Exchange Server 2003 on the backend and the Treo for Windows in users hands. Despite a nasty patent lawsuit that bled RIMs bottom line into red ink, RIM wasnt worried about Microsoft.

As it turned out, RIM didnt have any reason to worry about Microsoft. In February 2007, according to IDC, enterprise users, especially those in the Americas, were still carrying BlackBerrys. If theyre not using a BlackBerry, chances are theyre using a Nokia device running Symbian OS or Linux.

The other leading players are Motorola, which has committed its mobile future to Linux, Panasonic, the current mobile Linux leader, and Sharp, which uses Symbian, Linux and several more obscure embedded operating systems.

Windows Mobile? Oh, its used in a lot of devices. In fact, Ziff Davis Enterprise even has a site, Windows for Devices, that does nothing but cover this field. Its just that those devices have never sold all that well in the PDA field, where its RIM and Nokia slugging it out. Why should it be any different this time?

The answer: There isnt any reason. In fact, if you look closer at the news, theres every reason to expect that Microsoft has come much too late to this market to do anything except fail.

First, the software itself, which will enable technology administrators to send applications to phones, control security and simplify device management, wont be out until the first half of 2008. Thats Microsoftese for the last quarter of 2008, if everything goes right.

Then, to make use of this management suite, companies will need to buy new smart phones/PDAs. Theres nothing quite like telling your chief financial officer that you need to replace all your companys mobile devices.


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These devices, of course, dont exist, yet Microsoft claims that Samsung Electronics, Palm, Motorola and others have committed to make these new PDAs. I, for one, really doubt that Motorola is going to spend much time or money on this project. So that leaves Samsung and the ailing Palm as Microsofts serious device partners. If Im RIM, Im not shaking in my boots at these competitors.

At the same time as Microsoft is slowly charging at RIM, Apple has announced that it will provide a SDK (software development kit) for third parties to create applications for the companys popular iPhone and iPod Touch. Now that is something Nokia, RIM et al should worry about.

Unlike Microsoft, Apple can still move quickly and its premium-priced mobile devices have already proven to be exceptionally popular. Apple and its ISVs are the real potential disruptors to RIMs business communication dominance.

Microsoft? They have about as much of a shot with this plan as the boys from Redmond had with their flop of a plan for the Microsoft Zune to knock out Apples iPod.


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