Update on RIM, BlackBerry, BES and Microsoft Office 365

I wanted to post a quick update on RIM’s new BlackBerry Enterprise Service (BES) for hosted Exchange on Microsoft Office 365, officially called BlackBerry Business Cloud Services for Microsoft Office 365. In my October post, RIM announced the final release date for the service beginning in January 2012 along with a beta program that began in October.

I signed up for the beta program on October 4 and received a pleasant auto-response email. Since then, I’ve heard nothing but crickets and have been jonesing to see when the beta program will open up for non-Fortune 500 customers. Well, new information paints a bleak picture for small companies like ours as the RIM service will be free to subscribers of Microsoft’s Office 365 Midsized Businesses and Enterprises plan but not even available to Office 365 Professional and Small Business customers.

RIM’s own press release from October 25, 2011, verifies that small business and professionals using Office 365 will not have access to the new RIM BlackBerry Business Cloud Services for Office 365, at least at the initial turnup in January 2012. Perhaps a small business offering will come later but I have yet to see anything about that.

“Research In Motion (RIM) (NASDAQ: RIMM; TSX: RIM) today announced BlackBerry® Business Cloud Services for Microsoft Office 365 – a new RIM-hosted online service for midsized businesses and enterprises that extends Microsoft Exchange Online to BlackBerry® smartphones, and allows organizations to self-manage their BlackBerry deployments in the cloud. An open beta for the service is launching today in over 30 countries.”

I understand that RIM has its bread-and-butter market in the large enterprise. I also understand that RIM has proven it has no interest in small businesses like ours (or even large enterprises judging from the amount of lag between the Office 365 launch and the BlackBerry cloud service to replace BES) and we have chosen to move our services elsewhere. We cancelled our BlackBerry data service last week with our service provider and will be moving to an Android or iOS platform in February.

I will continue to keep folks up to date on this issue and it will be interesting to watch RIM continue to decline in influence as it ignores the customer service market and further alienates its customer base.

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