BlackBerry’s Grip on Enterprises May Be Slipping

Shares in Research In Motion took a hit on Wall Street Friday due to investors’ concerns that enterprises are starting to look to other mobile platforms. Dell’s 25,000 employees are abandoning RIM’s BlackBerry, and several major financial institutions are rumored to be considering a similar switch.

BlackBerry remains a formidable player in the enterprise market with assets and an installed base it can leverage, but the company needs to make some big investments to close the circle in its enterprise strategy, noted Al Hilwa, director of applications-development software at IDC.

“We have seen that the giants are all awakening in the mobile space and other players like Microsoft have incredible software presence in the enterprise, and no doubt they will leverage that to win,” Hilwa said.

Lagging in Apps

RIM’s mobile platform is great for e-mail, contacts and calendars and has a growing list of certified applications, noted Lisa Pierce, an independent wireless analyst at the Strategic Networks Group. But BlackBerry’s app universe pales by comparison with the offerings available on the iPhone and Android platforms, she added.

“Compared to these rival operating systems, RIM is also not great for web browsing or entertainment-centric apps,” Pierce observed. “RIM was not quick to embrace even something useful to both business and consumers, like maps/directions.”

Smartphones generate a significant amount of help-desk calls, and the work Pierce has done indicates that resolving questions from new BlackBerry users can take even longer, which means more cost and greater customer dissatisfaction, she explained. Furthermore, RIM has suffered from several significant outages, a top concern for financial institutions.

“Why pay a premium for a service that the vendor can’t maintain and refuses to explain when there are problems?” Pierce asked. “These are significant issues of trust” and “once trust is marginalized, it’s very hard to restore.”

Challenges for…

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