Report: RIM's Enterprise Lead Will Narrow By 2015

The latest report from IT research firm ABI Research portends both good and bad things for Research In Motion, the longtime leader in the U.S. enterprise smartphone market.

First the good news: Worldwide smartphone shipments to the enterprise are expected to grow at compounded annual growth rate of 15 percent a year through 2015, expanding an already enormous pie of which devices running RIM's (NASDAQ: RIMM) BlackBerry mobile OS will still hold the top spot at 26 percent.

The bad news is that forecast means RIM will struggle to hold off a flock of competitors in multiple regions, most notably to Apple's (NASDAQ: AAPL) iPhone and iOS and Google's (NASDAQ: GOOG) fast-ascending Android mobile OS.

Worldwide, ABI Research expects the mobile enterprise installed customer base to exceed 30 percent by 2015 and 65 percent in North America where RIM's BlackBerry will maintain its strongest foothold.

"While RIM would love to be the market share leader in every region, it understands that it cannot ultimately maintain such a large share of the enterprise market in an expanding and hyper-competitive marketplace, Dan Shey, director of ABI Research's enterprise practice, told InternetNews.com.

In North America, BlackBerry is forecast to hold its leadership OS position but it will be tenuous as more and more Droid devices enter the fray. It figures to be crimped even more if and when Apple brings the iPhone to Verizon or any other wireless carrier.

"The 'not so good' news is that RIM will not enjoy as large of a market share, particularly in some regions such as North America," Shey added. "But also keep in mind that RIM's enterprise market share is growing in other regions such as Latin America."

In other regions, ABI is predicting Android's share will expand in Western Europe, mostly at Windows' expense and Latin America will be fairly equally divided among Windows, Nokia's (NYSE: NOK) Symbian mobile OS devices and RIM.

In the Asia Pacific region, Symbian, which is expected to hold 16 percent of the worldwide share, is expected to lose considerable ground to all major competitors -- particularly Android --but manage to hold on to the top spot.

Shey said that security, variety of applications and device management capabilities will be "key determinants" of success for each of the mobile platforms but "not necessarily in that order."

In an effort to renew and sustain enterprise interest in its devices, RIM last month debuted the BlackBerry Bold 9780, one of several new smartphones that will feature its revamped BlackBerry 6 OS.

Also, in an effort to generate new revenue and inflict some damage of its own on Apple, the company announced plans this week to offer its PlayBook tablet PC for enterprise customers with a price tag of less than $500.

Larry Barrett is a senior editor at InternetNews.com, the news service of Internet.com, the network for technology professionals.


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