RealTime IT News

Good Competition for RIM?

It seems Research in Motion , maker of the famous Blackberry wireless handhelds and its accompanying communication software system, will have some direct competition angling for its market share soon. It's coming in the form of Good Technology, Inc., which has yet to formally announce itself but has already picked up enough buzz.

Based in Sunnyvale, Calif., Good was founded in March 2000, and features such luminary investors as John Doerr of Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers and Bruce Dunlevie of Benchmark Capital.

Good is making products similar to those that made Waterloo, Ontario's RIM famous: a pocket-sized device, wireless corporate e-mail (called GoodLink) to help keep mobile employees in the loop; applications; and server software. There is also a corporate data center called GoodInfo.

When lined up side by side with RIM's Blackberry, it's tough to see major differences. In Good's G100 handheld, there is access to e-mail and the Web, and it appears to be corporate-friendly, with its GoodInfo feature -- all of which is some of what RIM has to offer with its products and services.

GoodLink is available immediately for RIM handhelds. Pricing for GoodLink Server is $3,000 plus $50 per seat with an 18 percent annual support contract. Monthly GoodLink Service is $44.99. GoodInfo and the G100 are scheduled for availability this summer, subject to Federal Communications Commission approval. Pricing will be announced at that time.

Good's entrance to the market comes at an interesting time, particularly because the products are entry-level, compared to RIM's offerings. While few argue that 2001 was a period of stagnant growth for the personal digital assistant (PDA) sector, Gartner Dataquest Inc. projects 15.5 million PDAs will be shipped in 2002, an 18 percent increase from 2001 shipments of 13 million units. Much of this should be on the corporate side, according to Gartner analyst Todd Kort.

"The increasing capabilities of these devices and the growing availability of wireless technologies are beginning to stimulate large corporate purchases as solid productivity gains are realized, based on applications such as wireless e-mail or accessing corporate databases from remote locations," Kort said.

With interests turning toward more processing power, storage capabilities, not to mention wireless technologies such as Bluetooth and WLANs being added to the mix, Dataquest predicts end-user spending will increase more than 20 percent in 2002, to $4.6 billion, up from $3.8 billion in 2001.

But is a device such as Good's G100 really what the market, which is evolving, wants?

According to IDC, the demand for more convergent technologies in handhelds is increasing. For instance, handeld makers have begun to shift emphasis towards "communicators," which are essentially fusions of PDAs with mobile phones. In fact, RIM launched a communicator in March, the Blackberry 5810, which is something Good Technology may have to consider if it wants to compete with the major players. Handspring also offers its "Treo" communicator.

Research firm IDC said today that shipments for such convergent devices will reach nearly 63 million units worldwide in 2006, up from 3.5 million in 2002.

"Converged devices are the next great step in the evolution of the handheld device market," says Kevin Burden, program manager for IDC's Smart Handheld Devices research service. "Combining the telephony capabilities of a mobile phone with the data capabilities of a handheld device, the converged handheld market opportunity is positioned directly at the intersection of these two industries and represents one of the hottest trends in mobility for 2002 and beyond."