Push email market leader Research In Motion Ltd (RIM) has unveiled a version of its flagship BlackBerry Enterprise Server (BES) product enabling service providers to host the platform for SMBs.
This expands the Waterloo, Ontario-based vendor’s offering for the space, which to date has been limited essentially to the BlackBerry Internet Service, which is only for webmail. As such, Hosted BES is a canny addition, because it means SMBs running their own email servers can now push mails out to employees on the move through a carrier, just like their larger counterparts in the enterprise market.
It remains to be seen, however, whether the offering will attract SMBs in their droves, given the high price tag most BlackBerry devices carry. Still, there is always the option of getting the BlackBerry service on a regular mobile phone from vendors such as Nokia who have licensed the technology under the BlackBerry Connect program.
Hosted BES will give companies new to BlackBerry the opportunity to experience the service without having to make an initial investment in the server software, RIM said, in an email. We believe that the largest uptake on this offering will be among small and medium-sized businesses. We also believe the offering will help our carrier and reseller partners further penetrate the SMB market, RIM said.
For carriers, meanwhile, the offering looks like a logical extension of their existing BlacBerry services and, as RIM pointed out in announcing the new product, the solution also allows the provider to host a wide range of mobile applications that can be run on BlackBerry devices via BlackBerry Mobile Data System (MDS).
In other words, it opens up the potential for hosting access to other apps such as CRM or ERP packages through MDS, which would intuitively appear to hold more potential for carriers than doing the same thing for enterprises, which will typically want to handle their own application mobility infrastructure.
RIM said Hosted BES would charge service providers a monthly fee on a per user pricing basis. Specific pricing to end users will be determined by the hosting service providers, RIM said.
The company also said a number of service providers were planning to offer Hosted BES and will be announcing this in due course.