Jim Balsillie, Co-CEO of BlackBerry-maker RIM, remains confident
of his company and is not afraid of Microsoft's forthcoming WM2005
(aka Magneto) release.
This week RIM reported a loss of $2.6 million for the Q4, compared to a profit of $41.5 million for the same period a year ago. The loss was a result of settling its three-year patent dispute with NTP; excluding the $294.2m litigation charge and related $151.6m tax asset write-up, net income for the quarter would have been $140.1m. The number of BlackBerry subscribers in the quarter increased to about 2.5m from 1.1m at the end of RIM's last fiscal year, with RIM adding a higher-than-expected 470,000 new subscribers in the fourth quarter. RIM expects to reach 3m subscribers in May of this quarter and to launch BlackBerry with 100 new carriers this year.
What is RIM's stance on Microsoft's plans to offer push e-mail functionalities in the forthcoming WM2005 release?
"It's pretty hard to comment on something that's not launched," said Balsillie. "As I understand what 'Magneto' is, it's a service pack upgrade of MIS that works with Exchange 2003, and 2003's in … about 22 percent of their Exchange environments, and it will require an upgrade of the Windows Mobile, which is being embedded for … Windows Mobile devices for 2006. I don't know the specifics of the product, and I don't know the timing exactly, but I think it's going to be a while."
Balsille didn't do his home work. He should know that Magneto refers to WM2005 and not
to Mobile Information Server or a MS Exchange service pack. And where the heck did he come up with year 2006?
Balsillie suggested that Magneto may not be of great interest to carriers, since carriers "tend to be interested in something that's pan-application, so if you have something that's Notes, Exchange, Groupwise, Prosumer, that's very, very interesting; [whereas] if you're hitting 20 to 25 percent of just Exchange, which is just 40 percent of the enterprise, it may or may not be a key solution, but [regardless] it's maybe not a big part of an addressable market," Balsillie said. "When you talk to CIOs, do you look for [wireless e-mail] to be … a single-app forward integration of an e-mail store or do you look for it to be a generic wireless middleware for a bunch of carriers, for a bunch of apps, and a bunch of devices in a bunch of geographies?" Balsillie said.
Balsille would probably also say boo to a goose, but careful here: you don't want to end up like a second Netscape case, Mr. RIM!