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The RIM 957 ~ Probably Your Next Pager (and a Whole Lot More.)

Written By: P. Hayes
Published On: July 10 2000

The RIM 957 ~ Probably Your Next Pager (and a Whole Lot More.)
P. Hayes - July 10, 2000

Product Background

Research In Motion, more commonly known as RIM, is a Canadian company founded in 1984 and is now publicly traded on the Nasdaq exchange under the ticker symbol RIMM. The company got an early jump on wireless technology with a concept of "Always On, Always Connected", something which RIM has excelled at. RIM's primary focus is wireless e-mail, which has evolved into a mission critical application for most users over the past several years, leading to tremendous success for RIM's 850 and 950 versions of their wireless Blackberry e-mail device line.

In late 1999 RIM introduced the Blackberry 957 wireless e-mail device.

The above images show the smaller Blackberry 950 on the left and the new Palm sized RIM 957 device on the right. Through RIM's alliance with GoAmerica's Go.Web service the Blackberry line is able to communicate with the Internet using 'Web Stripping' as opposed to Palm's Web Clipping technology. The Blackberry device will not display image clips, but rather simply display the text of the Internet site you may require information from. It is important to keep in mind that the device's primary function is not Internet access; so much as it is e-mail centric. Nonetheless, wireless gadget lovers are comparing the 957 to Palm's Palm VII wireless device, and both devices now have a pool of devoted followers.

Product Strategy and Trajectory

The Blackberry 957 Wireless palm-factor device is, as previously mentioned, an e-mail centric product; with enterprise wide capabilities. There are two methods for implementing a Blackberry wireless e-mail solution, the first is through desktop redirection of e-mail and the second and more preferable option is to integrate the product with Microsoft's Exchange Server 5.5.

In the first scenario 'Desktop Redirection', the end users computer must be constantly on and constantly connected in order to send and receive e-mails on the 950 and 957 Blackberries. The solution is good for small offices with desktop systems which usually remain on anyway. For roaming users, or laptop users a more advanced scenario is highly desirable.

Through integrating RIM's enterprise messaging software component with Microsoft's Exchange server a roaming user with a Blackberry wireless device is able to send and receive e-mails regardless of whether or not his or her workstation is on and connected. Considering 45% (Probability 85%) of the Fortune 1000 companies utilize Microsoft Exchange, this product is already a hit within many financial and technical institutions.

Applications can be written for the Blackberry 957 in Java and the device is fully WAP compliant, which will allow for more direct competition with Palm's Palm VII product. In fact, RIM is holding a Blackberry Java developer competition to promote the device. For those of you who are used to the smaller, 'pager-sized' 950 you will love the additional screen size, however some minor key changes will trip you up for a while until you have fully familiarized yourself with the mildly modified keypad.

The Blackberry 957 makes use of a 900 MHz network for wireless communications through Mobitex networks. The device also makes use of an integrated and rechargeable battery pack which charges automatically when placed into the Blackberry cradle.

Product Strengths

The Blackberry's main strength lies in its tight and thorough integration with electronic messaging, and extends its reach through Microsoft Exchange Server enterprise services. RIM has already signed strategic business alignments with Internet Service Provider's such as EarthLink which is presently running a 500 user pilot with the device.

RIM's growth rates are simply an indication of where the industry is going. E-mail has become as important as the telephone, if not more so as far as business and even personal use are concerned. RIM has wireless e-mail in hand; it doesn't require a second e-mail address and works directly with your present e-mail client. We expect to see RIM continue to grow in triple digit percentiles for at least the next three years.

Product Challenges

The product must improve in Internet connectivity and speed to compete on a more head to head basis with the Palm VII. Presently the product uses web stripping to pull text from an Internet site and does a fairly effective job of it, but it needs to not only be faster, but also to have an enhanced interface for browsing the Internet.

BOTTOM LINE

Vendor Recommendations

  1. Provide software enterprise integration capabilities for Lotus Notes, which has an install base of over 50,000,000 users. RIM cannot continue to overlook such a rich source of potential sales targets.

  2. Provide software enterprise integration for Novell GroupWise, which has an install base of over 20,000,000 users.

  3. Continue to push into the ISP/ASP space where it will be able to capture a good percentage of the non-business class 'need to be wired' culture.

  4. Develop a Java based Internet browser for the 957 and introduce a color LCD screen option. The combination of the two coupled with enhanced e-mail would be the Blackberry on Steroids.

  5. As the user base continues to expand the monthly service rate must become more affordable. Presently the cost for unlimited wireless email is $39.99 a month. We recommend a reduction of 25% in monthly service costs to bring the monthly service fee to $29.99 (USD).

User Recommendations

The monthly flat fee for unlimited e-mail usage is $39.99, which is prohibitive for personal use, and not exactly a thrill for business use, but the product and service are top notch. If you are a business or individual who relies on e-mail messaging to conduct your daily life, this product is for you, make sure to compare it to the Palm VII prior to making a purchasing decision.

 
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