Here's my take on BlackBerry going forward

My colleague Larry Dignan has weighed in on key points made by Research In Motion executives during yesterday's Quarterly earnings call.I have been studying the transcript.
Written by Russell Shaw, Contributor

My colleague Larry Dignan has weighed in on key points made by Research In Motion executives during yesterday's Quarterly earnings call.

I have been

studying the transcript. I'd like to offer some of my own interpretations.

Relying on a diligently assembled transcript posted by the Seeking Alpha website, Let's dwell primarily on what RIM co-CEO Jim Balsillie said.

The indented grafs are Balsillie's remarks. The boldfaced remarks are mine.

We expect the BlackBerry Pearl 8310, which will be available from all carriers in North America later this fall, to open up a new market of CDMA users who want the small, light form factor of the Pearl on a high-speed EVDO network. Our experience with the Pearl on the edge platform is that it heavily contributes to net new subscriber account additions rather than driving an equal proportion of upgrades as we see with some of our other smartphone products.

Well, the Pearl's expansion to all carriers, including CDMA-based ones, will certainly broaden their footprint. Due to form factor reasons and its superficial resemblance to a cellphone, I view the Pearl as more of a consumer device than the Curve is. For those cellphone users who wish to "graduate" to BlackBerry but are a bit intimidated by full-QWERTY BlackBerry Curve, I'd say the Pearl would be the easiest transition.

BlackBerry Unite is our new software offering designed to allow small groups, such as a family or Soho, to stay connected with each other and easily coordinate their personal and business activities.

BlackBerry Unite software will be offered as a free download that provides groups of up to five users with mobile access to shared calendars, pictures, music, documents, and desktop content through BlackBerry smartphones. This will allow these groups a simple, low-cost way to coordinate and collaborate with each other.

Some of the features of BlackBerry Unite include the ability to share key information, including e-mail, contacts, pictures, documents and bookmarks directly from the BlackBerry smartphone with other group members; remotely download content, including pictures, music, documents and other content on their desktop computers directly from their BlackBerry smartphone; coordinate schedules using shared wireless calendar, with the ability to check each other’s availability setup or modify appointments and send reminders; remotely secure devices, including the ability to use commands that wirelessly erase lost or stolen devices and to enforce password protection; simple wireless controls to help define acceptable smartphone usage for each individual, such as the ability to place long distance calls or access certain online content, and the ability to automatically back up files on the BlackBerry smart phone to the desktop computer, so that if the device is lost or stolen, all the data can be simply restored in minutes on a replacement unit.

BlackBerry Unite will be available for free as a free download and with the help of an easy-to-follow setup wizard, can be installed in minutes on a regular PC. BlackBerry Unite is currently in development and a prototype of the software is expected to be available for customers for a free download later this autumn. We are excited about the upcoming availability of this product, given its ability to further proliferate the BlackBerry solution as a convergence platform by wirelessly enabling key data stores for family and Soho customer segments.

I have some very recent personal experience that illustrates the appeal of BlackBerry Unite.

Several of my colleagues in a business I am involved with now collaboratively communicate via IM, our Wiki, and a Google Group. Yet we've discovered that no single solution provides all the functionality that seems to be promised by BlackBerry Unite. We can't wait to take a look at how this platform will work for us.

IMHO the bigger picture view is that BlackBerry Unite will be able to handle all sorts of collaboration efforts that up until now, was primarily available to BlackBerry users who were tethered to an enterprise-based BlackBerry Enterprise Server.

BlackBerry Unite won't require such tethering. In fact, let me so bold to say this functionality will serve as a type of democratization of BlackBerry capabilities to users who have no need for BES.

As a result, I predict a kinetic effect on BlackBerry sales from BlackBerry Unite. Unite will spur on potential BlackBerry buyers who had been holding back for lack of a BES affiliation.

During Q2, Verizon Business announced distribution of the Ascendent voice mobility suite as part of their fixed mobile convergence portfolio. We view this announcement from a major U.S. carrier as an endorsement of our strategy to deliver a mobile desk phone experience. During the past quarter, there’s been tremendous interest in the BlackBerry mobile voice system from end customers and carriers. Based on the technology available from Ascendent systems, BlackBerry mobile voice system delivers fixed mobile convergence between the desktop and BlackBerry smartphone. We believe this is the only solution that can truly unify the fixed and mobile environment in a compelling, easy-to-use and secure manner.

This advance positions RIM to benefit from the trends of unified communications and fixed mobile convergence, while remaining open to the various PBX and voice systems in use by the enterprise. We are beginning to see a trend in the number of telecom executives who are considering BlackBerry handsets in the mobile voice area for many of the same reasons that BlackBerry smartphones have been successful in the data area, and we are receiving early indications that enterprises are considering replacing cellular phones with voice-enabled BlackBerry smartphones in order to secure and converge this key enterprise store.

I agree. I cannot tell you how many supposedly technologically advanced companies lack true compatibility between mobile voice (say, a salesperson calling in and discussing numbers) and applications that live on the desktop.

For such situations, Ascendent's functionality represents a big leap forward.

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