Trying to bring down Research in Motion

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For years competitors have tried to beat Research in Motion (RIMM) at its own game of selling smartphones to businesses, particularly its BlackBerry. Success has been limited, very.

The BlackBerry is a nearly perfect combination of complex e-mail machine and simple web access tool. Its server features are attractive to corporate IT departments. Perhaps most important of all, use of the BlackBerry has become an ingrained habit among millions of business people.

The new Palm (PALM) Pre almost has to take share from the BlackBerry. The overall market for cellphones is flat and, despite growth in smartphone sales, the recession is holding down sales of all consumer electronics.

RIM releases earnings this week and analysts will try to read the nuances of the numbers and the company's forecasts. They are trying to spot an Achilles Heel. According toThe Wall Street Journal, "Some analysts will be looking for signs that RIM's rivals are driving down the price that carriers are willing to pay for BlackBerry devices, putting pressure on profits in the longer term."

RIM's numbers may be better than analysts expect. The Apple (AAPL) has been using new applications, mostly made by outside developers, to try to build a presence in the business market. The iPhone is still considered primarily a consumer device, at least at this point.

Apple may find that old habits die hard.

Douglas A. McIntyre is an editor at 24/7 Wall St.

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