Despite challenges from a host of other vendors offering sophisticated mobile handsets to mobile professionals, the dominant position of BlackBerry among enterprise IT professionals is little changed, according to new survey data from market research firm Chadwick Martin Bailey.
Produced by Research in Motion, BlackBerry devices are "by far the preferred handset manufacturer among survey respondents," according to the research highlights. Conducted by Sage Research, the technology arm of Chadwick Martin Bailey, the survey collected responses from hundreds of IT decision-makers at large enterprises (1,000-plus employees).
The survey also indicates that RIM and its competitors haven't been particularly successful at pushing smartphone use beyond the executive suite. While more than 60% of the responding organizations use BlackBerry or other smartphones, "these deployments are typically not widespread and benefit only certain types of employees," including executives, sales staff, and IT workers.
Vendors including Nokia, Motorola, and Samsung have all released new models aimed directly at overcoming BlackBerry's preeminence in the last 18 months. They also have pursued acquisitions to add mobile e-mail to their device offerings: Nokia acquired Intellisync in February 2006, while Motorola bought Good Technology last November.
The Intellisync acquisition "puts Nokia in an unparalleled position in the business mobility market," said Mary McDowell, executive VP and general manager of Nokia's enterprise solutions unit, at the time.
That hasn't helped it erode the dominance of BlackBerry. Analysts over the last year have predicted that RIM's market share would erode as rival vendors released advanced converged devices offering both cellular and Wi-Fi connections, but the company once again posted strong results in its most recent quarterly earnings report. For the first quarter of fiscal 2008, RIM's revenue was $1.082 billion, up 76.5% from the same period last year. RIM shipped about 2.4 million devices in the quarter and added 1.2 million BlackBerry subscribers, topping the 9 million total mark.
"They absolutely have the first mover advantage in this market," said Sage Research senior consultant Chris Neal. "They've been around quite some time, so if there's a hangover effect, it's a pretty long-lasting one."
Last month, RIM released its first converged (i.e., Wi-Fi enabled) version of its popular handheld line, the BlackBerry 8820, to mostly strong reviews.