BlackBerry has conclusively established the validity of the Mobile Messaging value proposition. The popularity of BlackBerry clearly demonstrates the large user demand for this type of service, and the correspondingly large market opportunity. There can no longer be any doubt about the future growth and importance of the Mobile Messaging industry.
The Mobile Messaging industry of today is populated by a number of systems which are closed, which do not interoperate, and which violate the Internet End-to-End principle. In the long run this situation is untenable. Sooner or later, the industry must adopt a single set of open protocols that guarantee industry-wide interoperability. This will enable market entry and competition across the entire Mobile Messaging value chain. The result will be better solutions for the consumer, and enormous market rewards for the providers of those solutions.
The opportunity to do this now exists. The three key technological components are all in place:
The final enabling component is a set of truly open and free protocols; and this last piece is now also available in the form of LEAP.
Given that everything is in place, there remains only one obstacle to the open Mobile Messaging industry: the will of the industry itself. Operation WhiteBerry is no longer a matter of technological development. It is now a matter of consensus, collaboration and integration.
There is nothing in this article that is remotely theoretical or speculative. All the technological components for WhiteBerry are real and operational now. Any data communications professional can acquire the necessary components, and begin enjoying his fully functional WhiteBerry mobile messaging system today. A systems integrator or industry alliance could create a fully integrated open equivalent to BlackBerry and bring it to market within 90 days.
RIM has demonstrated the enormous market potential of Mobile Messaging, and is reaping the profits. Meanwhile, the entire community of potentially competing device manufacturers, modem manufacturers, network service providers, Message Center operators, and systems integrators stands idly by, gazing blankly off into space.
At the time of writing (February 2001), the state of the Mobile Messaging industry resembles nothing so much as a surreal game of musical chairs, in which nobody seems to have realized that the music has stopped. The chairs are all sitting there, empty. There ought to be a mad scramble to sit in them. Yet inexplicably, there is not.
But sooner or later, there certainly will be. And those industry players that realize this soonest, and stake their claims quickest, will be the ones that enjoy the most commanding first-mover advantage.
We gratefully acknowledge the assistance of the following persons in the preparation and review of this document: Payman Arabshahi, German Burtscher, Matt Champagne, John Coffey, Murat Divringi, Bahman Khamneian, Pean Lim, Derrell Lipman, Mike Marks, Daryoush Mehrtash, Mark Taylor, and Pinneke Tjandana.