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Meeting the Mobile Market

Looking beyond wireless email, RIM mobilizes applications.

By Eric M. Zeman

That RIM has succeeded in gaining the leading foothold in mobile email is evidenced by its BlackBerry brand’s rise to a household name. With 5 million subscribers to its wireless email service, RIM feels it offers a clear avenue to enabling the corporate masses. And now for those mobile workers who can benefit from mobilized applications—but whose daily tasks don’t require mobile email—RIM offers a solution as well. “What we’re finding is that there are individuals in the organization who don’t have and don’t need email, but they do have a need for mobile applications,” says David Heit, senior product manager with RIM. Industries such as healthcare, manufacturing, trucking, construction and public safety can all gain distinct efficiencies from mobile applications, sans email accounts. The interest in mobile applications is “quite strong, well beyond the early adopter phase.

It’s moving into the early majority phase,” says Heit. “Most organizations have a mobile solution in place. There’s a growing wealth of evidence of the benefits of moving to this type of technology, and a much wider audience is adopting it. The interest has been increasing.” Not only has interest been rising but so has growth. “We’re seeing growth in every sector,” says Heit. “People are envisioning growing their businesses and are beginning to think of mobilizing processes across their entire organizations.”

RIM’s BlackBerry Enterprise Server (BES) for MDS Applications is specifically designed to host mobile applications. “What we’ve done is taken the basic BlackBerry architecture, with its proven and secure solution, and separated it from the email component,” says Heit. “The typical BES admin is someone who has expertise in email. For administering enterprise applications such as Oracle or SAP, it’s better to hand off the responsibility to someone who comes from that side of the business, rather than the email guy.”

So what can this new server entirely mean for the mobile enterprise? First is the cost savings. Now companies can mobilize applications on handheld devices from a hosted service, but avoid paying the email account charges. Second, service providers can use the server to offer hosted wireless applications—such as a sales force or field service automation—to their customers independent of hosting an email environment for those users. And lastly, developers will have the ability to extend virtually any type of enterprise application to a BlackBerry device, using a variety of options that include the use of standard Web development tools to easily and securely extend intranet applications and content to users via the BlackBerry Browser.

Until now, enterprises have managed to mobilize workers with handheld terminals in the field equipped with on-board software. Server-based, hosted software services have largely been unavailable. With the growing demand for this type of service for mobile employees, RIM saw the need and moved to meet it. Applications for employees who are mobile increase competitive advantages and generate a high return on investment by increasing accuracy and productivity out in the field. Though the demand for wireless email is growing, enterprises often need robust applications and a proven platform on which to run them. The BlackBerry MDS Server is one such platform. “RIM’s focus remains on providing low-cost, highly effective mobile devices for wireless solutions,” says Heit.

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