BlackBerry was on the road last week, visiting large B2B dealers and distributors to discuss the new BlackBerry server tools. It has around one million UK customers at present, a tenth of its global base. It reckons it can grow its UK customer base at least fivefold in the UK by making the devices easier for B2B dealers to configure, even in the face of increased competition in the mobile email market from Microsoft.
B2B dealers are currently required to install the BlackBerry Enterprise Server (BES) in customers’ office computer systems. “It is a pain to get that done every time,” said one distributor. “You want to be able to just sell the BlackBerry and insert the SIM, instead of liaising with the company IT guy. That’s the biggest problem with selling BlackBerrys.”
RIM struck a deal with O2 parent company Telefónica in Spain earlier this month to make its Unite solution, which enables up to five handsets to read the same server applications and documents, available to BlackBerry users on Telefónica. O2 in the UK is expected to be confirmed as a UK distribution partner in the New Year.
Meanwhile, RIM has also unveiled BlackBerry Professional Software for B2B dealers pitching to businesses of up to 30 users. The new tool is based on the BES software, but can be installed manually over-the-air or via a CD installation kit.
One B2B dealer said: “BlackBerry is going all out for market share growth. The BES installation is a serious hindrance for most dealers. This is a really big help.”
Vodafone is expected to make the new installation tools available through its B2B channel in January too.