BlackBerry v Apple battle to escalate

6 May 2008

CIOs will no longer have to worry about introducing the eponymous BlackBerry device to the enterprise. Instead, as a result of a deal between SAP and Research In Motion (RIM), the plan is to bring the enterprise to the BlackBerry.

The deal will be pivotal in RIM’s defence of its core push email market against the expected onslaught of Apple, which is endeavouring to bring enterprise applications like push mail to the iPhone device.

In a deal designed to “tear down the walls between enterprise computing and mobile connectivity”, the two companies have jointly developed a native BlackBerry smart phone client that will bring SAP’s customer relationship management (CRM) applications onto the BlackBerry platform.

The new SAP CRM application will leverage the inherent security management capabilities of the BlackBerry. Executives that will use the solution will require only basic user training and minimal incremental IT infrastructure investment.

According to research firm IDC, the mobile user population is set to increase from about 800 million in 2007, accounting for 25.7pc of the worldwide workforce, to one billion in 2011, accounting for 30.4pc of the workforce.

“Providing access to and securing broad adoption of enterprise applications with mobile workers has been a pervasive challenge over the years,” said Mary Wardley, vice-president, CRM Applications, IDC.

“Most existing solutions require users to learn yet another application and navigation paradigm on their devices, and for IT to manage a complex infrastructure to deploy and support.

“By having a native application on a BlackBerry smart phone that easily extends functionality but retains the native ease of use, users will find it non-intrusive to adopt applications such as CRM. This is an exciting partnership and definitely has the potential to change the game.”

The new solution leverages the push-based architecture of BlackBerry Enterprise Server to automate data synchronisation between business systems and mobile applications.

BlackBerry smart phone users have the flexibility to use the mobile enterprise application even in the absence of network coverage. Once back in coverage, all updates queued on the handset and back-end servers are automatically transferred without user action, similar to how email on BlackBerry smart phones works today.

The mobile device management capabilities of BlackBerry Enterprise Server allow IT groups to centrally manage and wirelessly deploy mobile applications to BlackBerry smart phones.

“SAP is thrilled to bolster its long-standing relationship with RIM through the co-development of this breakthrough offering,” said Bill McDermott, president and CEO, SAP Americas and Asia Pacific Japan.

“By combining RIM’s expertise for empowering the mobile worker and SAP’s strength in business computing, we are embarking on an exciting future to make it easier and more convenient for today’s business users to perform their jobs.

“Our extended partnership with RIM will open many new doors for mobile workers around the world who require real-time mobile access to enterprise applications in a secure setting,” McDermott added.

By John Kennedy