September 11, 2010
Wall Street found a cure for CrackBerry addiction. That's not good news for Research In Motion (Nasdaq: RIMM ) .
According to Bloomberg, several large investment banks are looking into using Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL ) iPhones and Google (Nasdaq: GOOG ) Android handsets for corporate email on the go, rather than requiring the use of BlackBerry phones. Apple and Google have beefed up their security measures considerably in the last year, including such corporate-friendly measures as deep integration with Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT ) Exchange servers and the ability to wipe out sensitive information remotely. And they might have reached the point now at which some of the most security-obsessed companies on the planet think that's good enough.
Bloomberg's sources say that banking giant JPMorgan Chase (NYSE: JPM ) is looking into both Android and iPhone alternatives to the BlackBerry hegemony, while Swiss megabank UBS (NYSE: UBS ) is considering just iPhones. In both cases, the banks are weighing whether to let employees use their own phones for corporate email services, and neither is planning to actively distribute non-BlackBerry smartphones. That's a small relief for RIM, whose entire existence depends on defending the corporate messaging space. While the company has seen growth in the consumer space, its high-end smartphones have fallen flat.
But given how popular iPhones and Androids are becoming among the general population, it's a safe bet that many bankers and brokers are flashing the latest and greatest smartphones already as a complement to their BlackBerries. Unless RIM reinvents itself in short order, those vaunted CrackBerries may soon turn into hated digital leashes -- and needless ones at that.
What can RIM do to stem the hemorrhaging of corporate customers toward more user-friendly platforms? I'm sure you have some ideas -- share them in the comments below.