Partners relieved at RIM deal

Companies that have developed software products and services around Research In Motion’s BlackBerry are relieved the legal battle between RIM and NTP is over, hoping the US$612 million settlement will answer the anxious questions they have been getting from customers.

Ottawa-based Tiree Inc., for example, announced its facilities management application, Archibus/FM, would

be extended to the Black-Berry just two days before RIM faced a critical hearing about the threatened injunction in February.

“There was certainly some significant concerns with the two organizations who are in the process of rolling it out,” said Tiree president Andrew Millar, referring to clients in the midst of North America-wide deployments.

While RIM had said it developed a workaround that would allow BlackBerry service to continue even in the event of an injunction, Millar said Tiree was prepared to move users over to a Pocket PC environment, using Microsoft-based software.

The fact that the BlackBerry application is Java-based, meanwhile, provided some level of device independence. “We could have ported to another hardware platform,” he said.

Eric Apps, president of Toronto-based Angoss Software, said his firm deployed its FundGuard predictive lead generation solution on BlackBerrys earlier this year because it was the e-mail platform one of its clients selected.

By the same token, RIM’s dominance means it makes sense to build its marketing and sales analytics products around that user base.

‘A huge relief’
“I think the resolution of the NTP litigation will obviously benefit RIM,” he said. “The workloads they are all under, not having to worry about implementing workarounds, or otherwise deal with potential disruptions of users, is likely a huge relief.”

Carmy Levi, an analyst with London, Ont.-based Info-Tech Research, said RIM’s biggest threat now is Microsoft, which has been shipping a platform mature enough to compete feature-for-feature with the BlackBerry, followed by Nokia, which last year bought Intellisync in part to provide an alternative to RIM’s service. Overall, however, he said most users are sticking by the BlackBerry.

“There has been some suppression of demand – some have been gun-shy and have held back from existing deployments out of fear. I think as this case draws to a close, that will change,” he said.

“There’s a lot of optimism in the platform, that this remains a robust, deployable solution. If you look at the stock price, the market has voted with its pocketbook.”

Millar, on the other hand, suggested the NTP suit may have highlighted the fact that RIM is no longer the only game in town.

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