Research in Motion (RIM) is to attack the SME market through the dealer channel with its new BlackBerry Enterprise Server (BES) Express service.
RIM vice president of channel for EMEA Jacqueline Cooper told Mobile News business customers want more from service providers, and that the new BES Express will drive loyalty within their customer bases, even if it does not earn them new revenue and might feasibly cost them some potential revenue from sales of the full BES 5.0 system.
The BES Express service, which launches later this month, is available as a free download, and is compatible with Microsoft Exchange 2010, 2007 and 2003 and Microsoft Windows Small Business Server 2008 and 2003.
It offers push-based wireless access to email, calendar, contacts, notes and tasks with all information backed up on the server. Users can search email on the mail server remotely, book meetings and appointments, check availability and forward calendar attachments, set out-of-office replies, edit Microsoft Word, Excel and PowerPoint files and access files stored on the company network.
Unlike its BES 5.0 flagship product, BES Express allows fewer IT administration tools – 35, compared with over 400. But Cooper claimed its data security measures are sufficient for most SME customers.
BES 5.0 costs businesses around £3,000 to install and manage, and provides dealers with new revenue with its sale. The free cut-down service does not provide dealers with any financial benefits.
Cooper said customer loyalty is the main benefit to dealers.
“Mobile dealers have a close relationship with the end user; they understand their needs. Businesses require a full end-to-end solution from their suppliers, so by providing all three services – hardware, software and business security – customers are likely to stick with their existing vendor,” said Cooper.
“We pride ourselves on the security measures we offer business customers. BES Express is certain to attract a number of SME customers.”
RIM has come under fire from certain parts of the channel lately because its kit prices, particularly for the Storm and Storm 2 on Vodafone, have allowed only slim margins for resellers.
Cooper said: “We are not in this to make people less money. We want to empower the channel to sell more connections. Commission is important in motivating the sale.”
Cooper said RIM is investing heavily in the indirect channel, and will continue to sign new resellers and make it central to its sales strategy. “We see the channel as a great way to recruit more subscribers. We are always looking for new partners to build our proposition. There is always the opportunity for growth,” said Cooper.
Last quarter, as much as 80 per cent of RIM sales were to the consumer market, which it actively courted in 2009 through marketing and new products like the 8520 Curve. Cooper said RIM remains absolutely focused on the business market, however.
“Last quarter was the Christmas period so we saw a hike in consumer sales. We are not focusing on one particular type of customer – business or consumer. We want to gain a greater share in both areas,” said Cooper.
BES Express is essential to RIM’s renewed drive for business sales, said Cooper, just as its marketing activity around its App World applications shop is to drive consumer sales and activity. Cooper said it will launch a number of “super apps” on its platform this year, deeply integrated applications that run in the background.
“We have been a strong player in the market for 10 years and are confident in our software and platform. Customers ask specifically for a BlackBerry device, and we can build on the user experience customers get through launching super apps, which will enhance the experience.”