Is the BlackBerry's Advantage over the iPhone Ubiquity?

NEWS ANALYSIS: RIM's BlackBerry devices, including the new BlackBerry Tour, are available on a variety of carriers' services, including AT&T, Verizon Wireless and Sprint. That matters to enterprise customers who rely more and more on their smartphones and other handheld devices. But does Apple realize that?

Research In Motion announced earlier this week that it plans to bring the BlackBerry Tour, the latest in its lineup of BlackBerry devices, to Verizon Wireless customers on July 12. The phone will go on sale for $200 after contract and rebate. Verizon Wireless claims it will allow owners to make calls in 220 countries around the globe.
It's a smart move for RIM. The company that once easily controlled the enterprise market (and still relies heavily on the enterprise market for its business) is being pressured by Apple. For the past couple years, the iPhone was just another also-ran in the enterprise. It didn't have push e-mail, calendar and contacts; it didn't feature Exchange support; and it generally failed at providing enterprise customers with what they really wanted. For the first two years of its availability, the iPhone was a consumer device.
But all that has changed. The iPhone is now quite attractive to the enterprise. It finally sports push e-mail, calendar and contacts. It also has Exchange support. And after a long time waiting for it, the device now features copy and paste.

For a look at the BlackBerry Curve 8900 smartphone, please click here.

There's one more feature the iPhone has that could make a difference when companies decide on which product they want to buy: apps. Currently, the Apple App Store offers more than 50,000 applications. RIM's store has around 1,000 apps available to owners of the BlackBerry Bold, the BlackBerry Storm and soon, the BlackBerry Tour. That's quite a difference. It gets worse when you consider that many of the apps listed in the Apple App Store are designed specifically for business customers. Enterprise iPhone users can extend the functionality of their mobile devices far beyond anything possible in current BlackBerry models.

That's a real problem for RIM. All of the advantages it once clung to have been negated by Apple's recent updates. And worst of all, its hardware just doesn't appeal to users the way the iPhone does. RIM might still be performing well as a company, but it's debatable how long that success will last.
Or is it?

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...