Research in Motion said Tuesday that is adding Application Programming Interfaces to the BlackBerry Java Development Environment (JDE).
As Russell Shaw notes in Blackberry Beat RIM's move is designed to stimulate more third party applications development. Russell also outlines the details.
The big question is why RIM is adding more APIs. My hunch: RIM is worried about Windows Mobile's encroachment. Let's say for argument's sake that the Palm OS ultimately disappears.
That would leave RIM and Windows as the only mobile game in town. Traditionally we know how those OS battles work out.
Admittedly, my hunch may be reading too much into a few new APIs from RIM, but it does make you wonder. Meanwhile, the API announcement comes on the same day as a research note from a firm called ICAP.
In the note, analyst Richard Williams reiterated a sell rating on RIM shares and said "channel checks suggested a shortfall in BlackBerry sales in the quarter. The impact of Microsoft competition could be significantly more serious than expected."
Williams doesn't share the consensus view with other Wall Streeters, but his points are interesting.
His most important point:
"With the recent upgrades to the Windows Mobile platform, Microsoft can now offer virtually free push email capabilities, a key competitive advantage of RIMM’s and subject of at least part of the NTP patent infringement suit last year. The ability to send Outlook messages to any compatible device could erode RIMM’s ability to charge for software at the server level that provide push email to BlackBerry devices, hurting margins and earnings."
Williams wrote that with 6.5 million copies of Windows Mobile 6 already in the market RIM is likely to get squeezed. Meanwhile, Williams reports that Samsung's BlackJack (review) may be outselling the Pearl and Blackberry by a wide margin as corporate users go with Samsung.
If Williams' theory is correct (and it may not be as new Blackberries are rolled out) then RIM will need those third party developers and all those APIs to keep ahead of Windows Mobile. If the RIM OS is on par with Windows Mobile it's highly likely Microsoft wins.