Will the Palm Pre Overtake RIM's BlackBerry in the Enterprise?

News Analysis: The Palm Pre is on its way to store shelves. It's certain to appeal to some in the consumer space, but is it ready for the enterprise? That's a question that might not be answered so easily.

The cell phone industry is an interesting space. Competition is fierce. A handful of companies dominate the market. And as more cell phones hit store shelves, customers are requiring a slew of features, including touch-screens, cameras, camcorders, an App store, and much more.

At the same time, competition dictates that phones will only enjoy the spotlight for a short amount of time before a competitor sweeps in to take the glory.

And for the next few weeks, it's the Palm Pre that will supplant all others to take the spotlight in the mobile phone industry. Scheduled to hit store shelves June 6, the device is Palm's last chance to save itself from irrelevance.

The Pre is certain to appeal to Sprint customers who have wanted a "next-gen" cell phone. But can it entice the enterprise?

Right now, Research In Motion, the company behind the BlackBerry, is easily commanding the enterprise space. Apple is making inroads, but so far, it's RIM that has solidified its position as the leader.

It's a valuable position to hold. In the last quarter alone, RIM enjoyed over $3 billion in revenue and a $518 million profit, thanks to its predominantly professional customer base. The enterprise is a lucrative space that every major company in the cell phone industry wants to dominate.

And Palm is no different.

So let's take a look at its Pre to see how well it stacks up against the BlackBerry.


In the enterprise, carrier availability matters. Some big companies use multiple carriers. Smaller firms find the best deal with a particular carrier and stick with it.
And that's the biggest issue facing the Palm Pre. Sure, it's a neat device that will surely appeal to some, but when it's released, it will only be available to Sprint customers. According to reports, Sprint currently has 50 million subscribers.

That's certainly nothing to scoff at and since its Nextel acquisition, the company is servicing a slew of companies. But consider the fact that the BlackBerry is available on every major carrier, including Verizon Wireless, AT&T and Sprint, and it quickly becomes clear that Palm is at a significant disadvantage.

As it stands, companies can find a BlackBerry on any major carrier. If a particular firm is a Verizon Wireless customer, employees can have a BlackBerry. But if they want a Pre, they won't be able to do it. Palm simply can't match RIM. Being carrier-agnostic is important when a company wants to be a major force in the industry. And right now, Palm can't achieve that with the Pre.

Don Reisinger

Don Reisinger

Don Reisinger is a longtime freelance contributor to several technology and business publications. Over his career, Don has written about everything from geek-friendly gadgetry to issues of privacy...