RIM CEO Isn't Losing Any Sleep

At Harvard Business School&'s Cyberposium recently, Balsillie said event-driven workflows and advanced Internet services and applications delivered over persistent connections is the future of the BlackBerry—not simply push e-mail.

Balsillie said the top application for mobile devices will be service-oriented workflows enabled by faster data networks and partnerships with Google, Yahoo and Microsoft to offer event-driven services and permission-based advertising.

“Going forward, that essence of changing your relationship with information and context will create new business models,” he said. “Services is a new reality that is happening.”

RIM, for instance, will support enterprise instant messaging and realtime services, including Microsoft LiveMeeting and Lotus SameTime, to enable collaboration in the field, he said. BlackBerry Enterprise Server 4.1, due in January, also will support SAP, ERP, CRM, business intelligence and multiple e-mail applications, he said. The 4.1 upgrade also will provide application provisioning. Still, some Microsoft partners said the economics of the company&'s new solution can&'t be beat. Windows Mobile 5.0-based devices using Exchange 2003 Service Pack 2 provides push e-mail at no additional cost. “There&'s a lot of tire kicking going on,” said Ted Dinsmore, president of Conchango New York. “This gets Microsoft up to where RIM has been for a long time. It&'s easy to implement, and you don&'t need a separate server. And BlackBerry doesn&'t have a huge developer network.”

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To that end, the Waterloo, Ontario-based firm announced a wireless application framework called the BlackBerry Mobile Data System that supports Web services and allows developers to create customized, workflow-based applications.

While RIM has relationships with Exchange VARs, it is also building more indirect channels with ISVs and systems integrators, Balsillie said. “It&'s the beginning of our indirect model. We&'ve been direct B2B, and now there&'s more of a shift to indirect channels.”