New study defends BlackBerry against Microsoft’s mobile push

November 6, 2006, 11:12 AM UTC


BlackBerry-maker Research in Motion (RIM) continues to take the Microsoft (MSFT) threat seriously and has, well, put some research in motion to help its cause. The message: RIM’s e-mail platform handles data more efficiently, freeing up network bandwidth for carriers and preserving device battery life for users.

A spokeswoman working on behalf of the company passed a report to me a couple of days ago that makes RIM’s case.

RIM has reason to be worried. With Microsoft mobile software now on better-designed devices like Palm’s (PALM) Treo and Motorola’s Q, Redmond has a more compelling argument than ever that companies should keep things simple and use a mobile version of the Windows OS and familiar Windows apps like Outlook and Office.

So RIM paid for a study by Rysavy Research (.pdf), Peter Rysavy’s Oregon-based consulting outfit. Rysavy found that RIM’s BlackBerry Enterprise Server is more efficient than Microsoft’s Direct Push implementation.

It’s hard to agrue with the data — under certain usage scenarios, the BlackBerry has a clear efficiency advantage. (Probably performance, too.) But RIM’s argument about efficiency also has some weaknesses.

Frankly, if corporate customers demand Microsoft’s mobile platform, I doubt carriers will care much how much network bandwidth they use, within reason. Cost-wise, carriers care most about the expense of attracting high-value customers and keeping

them. Sure, it would be nice if Microsoft-powered devices would sip network bandwidth rather than guzzle it. But as long as companies stay happy and keep paying their hefty monthly tabs, it’s all good.

As far as end users are concerned, battery life is nice, but just as important is productivity. How much can a user get done with a

Microsoft-based device vs. a BlackBerry? RIM’s strongest argument will be delivering a better platform experience than Microsoft. Granted, “better” is largely subjective. But years ago in the PDA’s heyday, Palm wrote the book on beating Microsoft on user experience. RIM, take note.