The Wide-open Door to the Mobile Enterprise

Research In Motion has long dominated the mobile enterprise, but there are signs the BlackBerry’s days as the phone of choice for business users may be coming to end. RIM shares sank last week after it posted quarterly shipment figures and subscriber additions that fell short of expectations. And while RIM reported an impressive 40 percent jump in earnings over the year-ago period, that wasn’t enough to assuage the eight analysts who slashed targets on the stock Friday.

Even more damning than the analysts’ skepticism is this little tidbit from a survey by the startup Appcelerator: Barely one-third of mobile app developers are “very interested” in developing for BlackBerry OS, and only 1 percent of respondents said RIM’s platform “has the most capabilities as an OS.” As I note in my weekly column over at GigaOM Pro, that’s a far cry from the interest developers showed in the iPhone (90 percent) and Android handsets (81 percent), and it’s a huge concern for a company whose prospects will increasingly hinge on BlackBerry App World. In fact, BlackBerry drew little more interest than Windows Phone 7, which won’t come to market for months — making clear that developers aren’t buying co-CEO Jim Balsillie’s claim that the upcoming BlackBerry OS 6.0 will be a “quantum leap over anything that’s out there.”

Meanwhile, Apple and Google are increasing their focus on the enterprise. As the Wall Street Journal noted last week, IT departments are increasingly responding to the demands of employees and supporting the iPhone. Google is clearly positioning the upcoming Motorola Droid X as a business phone, and Android got a corporate boost last week when IBM gave the OS its seal of approval for business apps.

Microsoft is also targeting business users with Windows Phone 7, which appears to combine business functionality with the consumer-friendly features and simplicity that Windows Mobile sorely lacked. Apple and Google are strengthening their offerings for corporate use, but neither OS has caught fire in the enterprise. That gives RIM a little more time to right the ship with BlackBerry and create an OS that business can enjoy rather than endure, but it also leaves the door ajar for other players. So maybe the 27 percent of developers who are “very interested” in building atop Windows Phone 7 are onto something. Read the full post here.

Photo courtesy Flickr user Roozbeh Rokni.