Microsoft's (NASDAQ:MSFT) Windows Phone platform and BlackBerry (NASDAQ:BBRY) 10 have a chance to make headway in the enterprise smartphone market but face an uphill challenge, according to a top Verizon (NYSE:VZ) executive.
John Stratton, president of Verizon Enterprise Solutions, the company's $30 billion unit that was announced in late 2011 to focus on networking, cloud and enterprise solutions, made the remarks as part of a wide-ranging interview with IDG New Service.
"We'd certainly like to see at least a third player," he said, referring to the competition that could be given to Google's (NASDAQ:GOOG) Android and Apple's (NASDAQ:AAPL) iOS. "And it is yet to be determined if it will occur. We are aggressively supporting Microsoft and [BlackBerry], because those are the next two obvious guys. There are some other clouds on the horizon that may or may not come about, some different things that some of the OEMs are trying to do, but timing is tough."
Stratton noted that Verizon Wireless heavily supported Android before it began selling the iPhone, and that Verizon used to be one of BlackBerry's top carrier partners in the world. "I think [BlackBerry's] new OS is very good," he said. "I have a very large, really loyal base in the enterprise business, government, financial service, anywhere where data encryption and data security is important."
The Verizon executive said that there is little love in the enterprise market for Android, but that Android and iOS may have gained too much momentum already. "If you think about it, Microsoft or [BlackBerry], either should have a natural path in," he said. "But the question is whether the inertia problem going to be too much for them to overcome. This body is definitely in motion. Android is tough. The guys at Google would say it's not really fragmented, but if you look at it from an enterprise perspective, it is challenging. And it's a proposition that is sort of tough for IT professionals to get comfortable with."
Verizon Wireless is stepping up its marketing for Windows Phone and last month launched the high-end Nokia (NYSE:NOK) Lumia 928 Windows Phone for $99.99 after $50 mail-in-rebate with a two-year contract. Verizon has also started taking preorders for the BlackBerry Q10, the company's first BlackBerry 10 smartphone with a Qwerty keyboard. The gadget will sell for $199.99 with a two-year contract and will ship by June 6. Verizon also previously launched the touchscreen Z10 for $199.99 with a two-year contract.
Both Windows Phone and BlackBerry could use the support from Verizon, as both trail Android and iOS badly in market share. Research firm IDC reported last month that said vendors shipped 7 million Windows Phone units worldwide during the first quarter, up 133 percent from 3 million during the first three months of 2012 and increasing the platform's global market share from 2 percent to 3.2 percent year-over-year. That beat out BlackBerry's 2.9 percent, IDC said. (Rival research firm Gartner, which tracks device sell-through to end users, said that BlackBerry edged out Windows Phone globally in terms of market share in the first quarter, 3 percent to 2.9 percent.)
- see this IDG News Service article
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