Is RIM the Next Novell?

At one time, Novell was the king of the networking hill. Anyone interesting in becoming a network administrator had to know Novell. Then Microsoft came along and took their lunch money pitting the graphical and desktop friendly NT Networking against NetWare. Novell was seen as lacking vision and lagging behind their competitors. Sounds an awful lot like RIM today. Their last smartphone entries have been failures, and the upcoming PlayBook doesn’t look like an improvement in their track record. One of the strengths of the BlackBerry platform has been messaging, and they are releasing a product that doesn’t do that without being tethered to an existing BlackBerry device. The PlayBook is going to support Android apps instead of fostering their own third party developers because it’s another new platform that is coming out before there is a developer ecosystem. It feels rushed. RIM’s main customer is the enterprise, not the consumer. Enterprise executives want the sexiness of an iPhone or iPad with the security of a BlackBerry. RIM is not making that happen.

RIM has a definite hold on the enterprise market for mobile phones. This is in large part due to their tremendous security on the devices. The BES server is encrypting data transfers and improving network response time to the devices. Everything stored on the device is encrypted. Administrators can remotely wipe data from the devices. None of this is going to come from Apple. The enterprise is not their main customer, it’s the consumer. Google might be able to do this with Android, but more than likely it will come from the cloud. Google does not have the internal server market in hand.

Microsoft has built a huge empire in the enterprise with sever software and networking. They are the most likely competitor to take out RIM. Why haven’t they focused on extending their enterprise platform for mobile devices? If they came out with a secure phone that was integrated with their products (Exchange, Office, SharePoint, CRM) RIM would be out of the game. Microsoft has been blinded by the iPhone’s success (and now Android) in the consumer market.  Recently, they have seen consumer success with the XBox and Kinect. It seems to me they want Windows 7 phones to do the same thing. I really don’t think that is the market for them. RIM is trying to give the enterprise market to someone, why isn’t Microsoft taking it this time?