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12:54 PM
Nathan Golia
Nathan Golia
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RIM CEOs Decide Best Defense is Good Offense

Jim Balsillie and Mike Lazaridis vigorously defended their company to the New York Times, but they can't hide from the challenges it faces in the hyper-competitive enterprise mobile space.

If you're able to, check out this interview with co-CEOs Jim Balsillie and Mike Lazaridis of Research in Motion in the New York Times today. We identified them as two of our 2011 "People to Watch," because of the coming release of the PlayBook tablet computer and also because we wondered if they would continue to position themselves as the best platform for enterprise mobile.

The answer to the latter question is "undoubtedly," as Lazaritis offers a pointed defense of his company, which is losing market share in the smartphone market — but still recording growth.

Why is it that people don’t appreciate our profits? Why is it that people don’t appreciate our growth? Why is it that people don’t appreciate the fact that we spent the last four years going global? Why is it that people don’t appreciate that we have 500 carriers in 170 countries with products in almost 30 languages?"

It is possible that the loss of market share could be attributed to new entrants to the smartphone market, rather than people switching from BlackBerry. (Balsillie "hinted that having a piece of a fast-growing pie would be enough," the Times reported.) However, eventually the sector will reach full maturity, and dominant players will emerge. But a major driver of mobile companies' success down the road will be their tablet offerings — and there are still questions about the viability of the PlayBook — the release of which was delayed until April 19.

To make matters worse, Google is beginning to court the enterprise more aggressively for its Android mobile OS, and today Gartner essentially handed the tablet market to Apple.

At least in the insurance space, iPad's head start gives it a clear advantage. Our digital issue has an article I wrote about agents using the iPad — and so far only the iPad — to augment their sales strategies. However, Sun Life plans some big things for the PlayBook — when it arrives.

Still, I've been told by most carrier CIOs I've spoken to on the subject — across lines of business and business objectives — that they're really only looking at RIM and Apple when it comes to tablet and enterprise mobile strategy. The question is whether Apple will dominate the market, with RIM a far-secondary player, or whether distribution will be equitable.

Nathan Golia is senior editor of Insurance & Technology. He joined the publication in 2010 as associate editor and covers all aspects of the nexus between insurance and information technology, including mobility, distribution, core systems, customer interaction, and risk ... View Full Bio

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