Monday, November 8, 2010

iPhone Challenging Blackberry In Corporate Sector

With consumer sales so strong for the iPhone, it's inevitable that business people are steering away from the ubiquitous corporate preferred mobile device, the Blackberry.  Blackberries have long been the preferred smartphone device for business people, politicians and even bankers, due to its secure mail server capabilities.  But the use of smartphones for personal (consumer use) and business use are merging, and no one wants to carry two devices.

For the iPhone to really compete against Blackberry, security needs to increase and in fact the banks are testing software designed to make the iPhone secure enough for corporates.  The other factor that is accelerating the use of iPhones is cost; Blackberries cost more to run due to their monthly service charges.  Dell has said it is dropping Blackberry smartphones and will replace it with its own new line of smartphones, citing the Company would save 25% on communications costs alone.

A recent survey by Bernstein Research found 83 percent of U.S. businesses allow employees to use non-BlackBerry alternatives to access corporate email. With Bank of America, Citigroup, JPMorgan Chase and UBS, all saying they are considering allowing employees to use iPhones or other alternatives to the standard-issue BlackBerry, things are not looking too good for RIM's market share.  Of course, RIM has stated otherwise, that it is adding corporate subscribers. According to IDC, RIM's market share has fallen by 4 percent in the last third quarter compared to a year ago.

The surging popularity of consumer smartphones such as the iPhone allow corporate email access for business users, and if companies no longer need to supply the device, this could add up to a major I.T. cost saving. Bank of America has around 290,000 employees, while Citi employs some 258,000 and the British bank Standard Chartered already allows its employs the choice of using their iPhones.

Adding to this trend is the capability of wi-fi and FaceTime, and you can see how more productive the iPhone is for business users both at the office and while traveling.  With FaceTime soon to be available on the desktop and of course the iPad, it's really difficult for RIM to compete with this tight integration.

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