Cingular Wireless, the largest wireless carrier in the U.S., on Tuesday said it would offer business customers Good Technology Inc.'s e-mail service, giving the software company a big boost in its uphill battle against the market-leading BlackBerry.
Cingular, which also offers Research In Motion Ltd.'s BlackBerry service, said in a statement that Good's GoodLink is an "outstanding addition to our portfolio of robust, enterprise-grade offerings for businesses."
GoodLnk and BlackBerry offer e-mail access and a personal information manager, which is software that that organizes contact lists and provides a scheduler and other features. Both services can synchronize with Microsoft Corp.'s popular e-mail desktop client Outlook, but only the BlackBerry supports IBM's Lotus Notes, which is popular with businesses.
Good, which only makes software, is looking to license its product to as many different hardware vendors as possible, Todd Kort, analyst for market researcher Gartner Inc., said. To date, however, GoodLink use is mostly on the Treo, an advanced cellular phone from PalmOne Inc.
BlackBerry, on the other hand, is found primarily on RIM's own hardware, which accounts for about 70 percent of the company's revenues, Kort said. While RIM has been trying to license its software to other hardware vendors, a patent infringement suit filed by NTP Inc. may have hampered the Canadian company. In March, RIM settled the suit by agreeing to pay $450 million to NTP, based in Arlington, Va.
"We could see a handful of devices with a RIM client later this year," Kort said. "There's still a lot of potential for RIM to capture new licensing business, if they want to."
Good has managed to "nibble away" at the market at RIM's expense, taking away several Fortune 500 accounts, Kort said. Good's biggest advantage over RIM is a simpler pricing structure.
"But it hasn't been enough to slow RIM down," he said.
Indeed, RIM's BlackBerry accounted for 20.8 percent of the handheld-computer market in the first quarter, according to Gartner. Worldwide shipments increased 75.6 percent to 711,000 units. RIM has about 3 million subscribers, with about 90 percent corporate users.
Good, however, isn't the only company looking to steal market share from RIM. Visto Corp., based in Redwood Shores, Calif., recently announced wireless e-mail service deals with Nextel Communications Inc., Reston, Va., and with Vodafone Group PLC, based in Britain. Vodafone is the world's largest wireless carrier.
Cingular, which has 50.4 million business and consumer subscribers, is selling GoodLink for $44.99 a month for unlimited data with a qualified voice plan. Customers, however, must also purchase a one-year support package from Cingular and Good for $1,500 and a one-time $99 per user access license.