EarthLink’s Pilot of Wireless Email via BlackBerry Handhelds

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EarthLink’s Pilot of Wireless Email via BlackBerry Handhelds
P. Hayes - June 1, 2000

Event Summary

EarthLink, Inc. (NASDAQ: ELNK), the nation's second largest Internet Service Provider (ISP), has begun a market test of EarthLink Airmanager, a wireless service featuring BlackBerry Internet Edition from Research In Motion Limited (NASDAQ:RIMM; TSE: RIM). The service allows EarthLink members to send and receive e-mail messages using the BlackBerry Wireless Email Solution.

Market Impact

The EarthLink Airmanager service will utilize Research In Motion's BlackBerry Handheld wireless device to provide the ISP's clients with the ability to retrieve and respond to e-mail, at anytime, from anywhere. The BlackBerry Handheld features a miniaturized keyboard, an easily viewable LCD screen coupled with a navigation wheel allowing the end user to scroll up and down with ease.

EarthLink views wireless e-mail access as a logical extension of proactive customer care. As e-mail has evolved from a pleasant, but not altogether necessary application, into a mission critical application, the demand for access, regardless of time, place, or device has never been greater. The initial Pilot test of the BlackBerry Handheld e-mail device for the Airmanager service will be limited to 500 users for a cost of $34.95 (USD) per month, including unlimited messaging and the lease cost of the wireless device.

According to EarthLink the average subscriber checks his or her e-mail at least five times a day (considerably more for 'power' users). Given this very basic statistic we believe the demand for the Airmanager service will be overwhelming. We conservatively estimate the number of EarthLink e-mail subscribers at approximately 3.4 Million, and given a successful pilot would comfortably estimate the demand for the Airmanager service to capture 1 in 30 e-mail users, or approximately 100,000 users (Probability 80%). The potential market impact for both RIM and EarthLink is staggering. We believe the Airmanager service, albeit a Pilot now, will indeed be a long-term success.

User Recommendations

The announcement is good news for all parties involved, including EarthLink's e-mail subscribers. The BlackBerry Handheld is a solid wireless messaging tool, which has been tried and proven in the corporate world. The BlackBerry device uses a Push technology and is constantly connected. The device is easy to use and has an attractive form factor; one can attach BlackBerry to a belt, slip it into a pocket or drop it into a purse.

As e-mail continues to become more and more important to users personal lives we expect to see more ISP's start to offer wireless access via BlackBerry devices, Palm devices, Wireless Access Phones, and PocketPC devices. Prior to the end of 2003 we anticipate a global wireless enabled community consisting of greater than 600 million users.

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