Experts said some customers may prefer the all-in-one proposal the firm, based in Espoo, Finland, could offer, as it would more closely mirror RIMs current proposition.
"Nokia would have to be an interesting alternative for some, as theyre trying to sell devices, applications and wireless deployment in a one-stop shop," said Kitty Weldon, an analyst with research firm Current Analysis Inc. of Sterling, Va.
"Its not clear how that would play out in the United States where theyre not as entrenched as they are in Europe, but they would have to be considered one of the players that might be most likely to try to step in there."
Some experts said that neither Microsoft nor Nokia are ready to provide the same level of sophisticated service that RIM has been offering, and contend that this would make it hard for either firm to win over large numbers of BlackBerry customers right away.
Martin Reynolds, an analyst with Gartner Inc. in Stamford, Conn., observed that another firm, Good Technology Inc., a licensee of some of the disputed NTP patents, might actually be the best fit.
"Nokia and Microsoft arent there yet product-wise; they simply arent as compelling as the RIM product, and people will want something that works like BlackBerry," Reynolds said.
"Good [Technology] is the most obvious choice, as they have very similar products and have worked to become compatible with the BlackBerry equipment. Since theyre an NTP licensee, they may also have a chance to convince customers they could have an easier time helping them with the transition."
Two lesser-known companies whose names are also being circulated as potential replacements for some of RIMs customers are Seven Networks Inc. and Visto Inc., both based in Redwood City, Calif. Seven Networks specializes in SMB (small and midsize business) customers, and could win some users in that space, experts said. Visto has seen most of its success thus far in Europe and would likely make an effort to win deals in that region.
Additional reporting by Microsoft Watchs Mary Jo Foley
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