Research in Motion's stranglehold on the enterprise with its Blackberry smartphones continues to loosen, as a pair of big money-center banks and the nation's largest mutual fund family are reportedly testing iPhone and Android devices as potential Blackberry replacements.
JPMorgan Chase & Co. and Switzerland's UBS AG are both considering letting employees use iPhones for access to corporate e-mail for the first time, according to Bloomberg. JPMorgan is testing both iPhones and smartphones based on Google's Android mobile OS, Bloomberg says, citing two people familiar with the bank's plans. JPMorgan is the nation's second-largest bank, with about 220,000 employees worldwide.
UBS AG, Switzerland's biggest bank with more than 63,000 employees, also told Bloomberg it is considering allowing its staff to use iPhones for company messaging, due the growing popularity of the smartphone among employees. And Vanguard Group Inc., the largest operator of stock and bond mutual funds in the US, is trying out the iPhone with 300 workers and may soon let employees companywide use the device, Joshua Grandy, a Vangaurd spokesman told Bloomberg.
These financial services giants are just the latest to explore alternatives to the BlackBerry. In May Standard Chartered Bank Plc announced it was migrating 15,000 employees from BlackBerry to the iPhone by year-end. The financial services seem to be at the forefront of the movement toward IT consumerization, which is widely seen as building momentum and threatens the dominance that RIM and BlackBerry enjoys in the enterprise.
"This phenomenon is very new and we expect it to put increased pressure on RIM's performance," Pierre Ferragu, an analyst at Sanford C. Bernstein Ltd. told Blookberg "BlackBerry isn't the only alternative to offer employees mobile e-mail."
Ad Ferragu notes, Wall Street isn't just abandoning RIM as a supplier, it's bailing on RIM as an investment, as an increasing number of analysts are hanging the "sell" sign on the company's stock. The latest example is Colin Gillis of BCG, who wrote in a note to investors last week, "We have respect for RIMM's historical success, but the company's core strengths of security, keyboard, compression, and battery life have a diminishing appeal to both consumer and enterprise customers in a brutally competitive and rapidly evolving smart phone market, in our opinion."