Patent problems, competitors an issue for RIM

While the judge presiding over the NTP vs. RIM patent dispute is set to hold a hearing by February to consider stopping BlackBerry sales and email service in the U.S., competitors are looking to swoop in to take advantage, and enterprises are beginning to worry about the future of their BlackBerry service. In December Gartner, the premier analyst firm when it comes to advising the enterprise on technology decisions, advised enterprises to stop or delay all mission-critical BlackBerry deployments and investments because users could lose messages. However, the cost of replacing an entire corporate wireless email system is expensive.

Corporate law firm Dechert, for instance, began a 45-day trial of 15 devices from RIM rival Good Technology to prepare for a disruption in service to its 1,300 BlackBerrys, but the firm says the cost of replacing the entire Blackberry system would be $400 per device. That leaves corporate users in a tight spot. RIM is banking on recent information from the U.S. Patent Office that says it will likely reject NTP's patents, but history suggests we'll see a host of new patent assertions in the future from other companies claiming to own patents.

In related news, RIM announced that Google Talk instant messaging and Google Local for mobile will be available to Blackberry Wireless handhelds. Interestingly, Google announced earlier this week its acquisition of Reqwireless, a small Canadian software company based in RIM's hometown of Waterloo, Ontario. Reqwireless makes a Web browser and email software for use on wireless devices. Google bought the company because it was impressed by its engineers.

For more about RIM's legal woes and its deal with Google:
- take a look at this report in the Wall Street Journal (sub. req.)
- read this article from AP