Replacing Blackberry to cost US$845 a worker, study says

Replacing wireless e-mail such as Research In Motion Ltd.’s BlackBerry service for 1,000 workers would cost US$845,000, or $845 per worker, according to a new analyst study.

That estimate, compiled by J. Gold Associates in Northboro, Mass., is meant to give IT shops an idea of the replacement costs they might face should a U.S. court shut down BlackBerry service as part of an ongoing patent dispute between RIM and NTP Inc.

Analyst Jack Gold, principal of the firm, called a shutdown “unlikely” but noted that many enterprises are asking what their alternatives would be if a shutdown did occur. There are more than 4 million BlackBerry users worldwide.

Gold’s estimated replacement costs are based on buying new devices to replace BlackBerry handhelds, a cost Gold estimated at $300 per worker.

The second-largest cost would be the loss of productivity that would occur during any transition, including an estimated four hours per user in server downtime, switch-over time and time not having the device.

The third major cost would be finding other wireless e-mail middleware, which Gold pegged at $75,000. That figure came from an average of substantially differing costs from vendors such as Good Technology Inc., Extended Systems, Intellisync Corp., Nokia Corp. and Microsoft Corp.

The overall cost would be split almost evenly between corporate IT shops and individual users, with 52 per cent being borne by IT while 48 per cent is paid for by end users.

Gold said those estimated costs could rise if users need accessories such as car power adapters, headsets, batteries and handheld cases. And he said that if users don’t received a subsidy from a carrier for a smart-phone device, the cost per device could nearly double. That situation would be rare, however, he added.

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