The Associated Press reports that Microsoft will announce a new push e-mail service for mobile devices at the 3GSM phone show in Barcelona, Spain today. This is, of course, terrible news for embattled RIM whose Blackberry devices have been a corporate standard for this service. According to the report, a number of analysts are predicting a potentially serious impact on RIM's business.
"Strand Consult, a Denmark-based IT research house, expects companies worldwide to invest in much broader mobile e-mail access for their employees in 2006.
"At the end of the year, many will be asking themselves whether they really needed a Blackberry handset from RIM to check mail - and RIM might be asking themselves what went wrong," Strand wrote in a research note.
"Microsoft will most probably overtake RIM as the leading mobile email provider."
Wireless access to email, calendars and contacts - once the preserve of jet-setting executives and professionals in law and finance - is increasingly seen as a useful tool for a wider array of workers, keeping them informed and in touch when away from their desks."
The initial telecom partners for this venture are Vodaphone and Cingular. Hewlett Packard will also announce an IPAQ running Windows Mobile 5.0 that can use the service over a WiFi or Bluetooth connection. What makes Microsoft's announcement so interesting is that the new push e-mail will not require additional server hardware or software. The latest release of Exchange Server last fall includes the server-side capabilities for the service and existing Windows Mobile 5.0 devices will require only a software upgrade to take advantage of the service.
UPDATE: eWEEK's report discusses some of the reasons why RIM is probably not shaking in their boots just yet. According to the analysts and early testers quoted in the article, notable issues Microsoft still has to work through include security and usability on the client side. Still, if history is any guide, this should probably be treated more as a momentary reprieve than cause for any long-term comfort on RIM's part.