OPINION: How RIM and Microsoft are striking back at apple

Despite the recession and the traditionally slow month of August, technology vendors have been quite busy jockeying for position in the mobile market during these dog days of summer.

Nokia recently announced plans to include a mobile version of Microsoft Office on its E Series devices using the Symbian operating system. Offering Office for devices running an operating system other than Windows is hardly new for Microsoft, which has offered a version of Office for the Macintosh for more than 10 years.

But a Gartner report showed in the third quarter of last year, Symbian-based devices commanded nearly half the handset market, with 48.9 per cent of sales. Windows Mobile was in fourth place, behind the iPhone and BlackBerries, which had third and second place respectively.

The popularity of the iPhone among business users may have officials at Research in Motion worried. The Waterloo, Ont.-based company earlier this week bought Torch Mobile of Toronto (which makes the Iris mobile browser) and has hired Torch Mobile’s developer staff. At press time, RIM had not confirmed it will only offer Torch Mobile on BlackBerry. But RIM’s strength in the enterprise is not so much the devices themselves — despite the popular nickname CrackBerry — but in the back-end software. Recently we published a review of BlackBerry Enterprise Server 5.0. This version has colour-coded alerts and a high availability feature that lets users stay up and running while performing scheduled upgrades.

Offering services to mobile users continues to be a cut-throat business. One example is RIM’s efforts to deny Nortel Networks Corp.’s Long Term Evolution assets to Nokia and Ericsson. Buried in the political posturing over Nortel’s bankruptcy is the fact that RIM officials do not seem to want any rival handset maker to get its hands on Nortel’s LTE technology. Ericsson is only getting a non-exclusive licence to use the LTE patents, but RIM is trying to convince politicians this will cause a national security problem.

Do you think it’s better for corporate wireless users if RIM gets to keep Nortel’s LTE patents without allowing manufacturers to licence them? Send us your opinions at [email protected]

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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