Musings of an Internet Marketing Consultant
Musings of an Internet Marketing Consultant

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

6 Million Thumbs, 49,000 Servers and Counting

Yesterday, for the eighth year in succession (and the seventh as a shareholder), I attended RIM's annual general meeting in Waterloo, Ontario. This year the venue had moved next door from the Clay and Glass Museum to the Mike Lazaradis Theatre in the new Perimeter Institute building (funded through Mike's foundation).

If one were to believe the press, RIM is under siege from Microsoft, Visto, Treo, Good Technology and many others. However, three facts brought out in the meeting reinforce RIM's position as a sustainable enterprise platform business, not simply a wireless email infrastructure business:

1. The key number in the presentation: 49,000. This is the number of Blackberry Enterprise Servers ("BES") installed as of the quarter ending May, 2005. Until the competition builds a similar level of enterprise embedding, Blackberry will be the predominant platform for the high margin, lucrative enterprise wireless communications space. This number is even more significant when placed in the perspective of 175,000 to 200,000 Microsoft Exchange server installations. (Note: BES supports MS Exchange, Lotus Notes and Novell GroupWise servers.)

2. Mobile Data Suite, a new web services-based platform for developing wireless enterprise applications: not so much for its capabilities as for its expansion on RIM's platform philosophy. RIM has built a network of ISV's who are developing enterprise applications built around the deployment of Blackberry devices. This only provides further embedding into the enterprise space.

3. The Gartner Study: in one of those quadrant diagrams (Ability to Execute vs Degree of "Visionariness") only RIM appears in the High "Ability to Execute"/High "Visionary" quadrant. Microsoft, Good Technology, Nokia and others fail on at least one axis or the other.

Blackberry has become the predominant PDA platform with a 21% market share; it has over 3 million users -- goals that the competition can only envy. It is the only true "push" wireless e-mail service - the major source of its licensing business. But until the perceived competition can meet these enterprise platform standards, RIM will lead the wireless e-mail communications space for a long time to come.

Follow-up Note: In discussions after the meeting with Jim Balsille, Mike Lazaradis and other executives, they had no knowledge of the Kitchener/London Blackberries story.

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