Blackberry CEO Tries to Drive a Wedge Between Apple and Mobile Operators
[RIM Co-CEO Balsillie] is also intensely critical of what appears to be an effort by Apple to wrest control of the customer experience in the consumer market. For example, the iPhone is being sold through Apple’s own stores, instead of strictly through AT&T Inc., which signed an exclusive U.S. deal with the computer maker. The phone is free of AT&T’s logo and software and is tied closely to Apple’s iTunes music store, which is where subscribers will need to go to activate their phones and browse rate plans.
“It’s a dangerous strategy,” says Balsillie. “It’s a tremendous amount of control. And the more control of the platform that goes out of the carrier, the more they shift into a commodity pipe.”
This post could alternately be titled “Blackberry CEO Whispers Sweet Nothings in Operators Ears”.
This is really about trying to drive a wedge between Apple and its current and potential mobile network partners. Of all the big mobile device manufacturers, RIM has the least to gain if the industry moves to a more open mobile market with weakened operators, and enjoys a very comfortable position in the current operator-dominated environment. Unlike most mobile device manufacturers, RIM derives a large chunk of their revenue from service subscriptions. They sell into the least price-sensitive segment of the mobile market – business and government users. They have gotten their current market position by providing internet services on networks with poor data capabilities.
But all of this is changing. RIM’s centralized email relay infrastructure is becoming dated and their services like push email and calendaring are in danger of becoming commoditized by copycat devices and internet cloud services.
I love my Blackberry Pearl and it’s a great device. But I expect I’ll be even happier as an iPhone user when it arrives in Canada…