During the iPhone SDK Roadmap event today, Apple strolled up to RIM, slipped out a glove, dropped a brick into it, and slapped out one "boom" of a challenge.
Blackberry is an email monster, no doubt about it. Intoxicating "push" delivery and back-end IT administration have made it the darling of the enterprise world. But it isn't without problems: due to the centralized server-model RIM utilizes (where all mail is collected by RIM prior to being pushed out to end-users), there's a single point of failure for all Blackberry users everywhere (as seen in two recent, service-wide outages) -- and a single point of exploit as well (where an attack on RIM's server could compromise the privacy and security of the entire user base).
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Apple is eager to exploit this weakness -- so eager, in fact, they went right into the belly of the beast itself: they licensed Microsoft ActiveSync to provide direct Exchange support for iPhone.
Come the iPhone (and iPod Touch) 2.0 firmware update targeted for a late June release, every user will be able to enjoy instant "push" access to a wide gamut of Exchange services, including:
Still not convinced Apple has slid up to RIM's lunch, fork in hand? Phil Schiller, VP of Marketing, displayed a nice slide showing iPhone's simple Exchange connection (iPhone - Exchange) compared to RIM's more complex model (Blackberry - NOC - Message Server - Exchange).
"Microsoft has come up with a much more advanced architecture, where the iPhone can work directly with the Exchange server in a more reliable and affordable way." (Engadget)
"You should ask [RIM if Apple is sending them a message]... we're not sending them a message, we're sending customers and developers a message that we're trying to serve their needs." (Engadget)
"Why aren't CIOs really worried about security? Every email message sent to or from a RIM device goes through a NOC up in Canada. Now, that provides a single point of failure, but it also provides a very interesting security situation. Where someone working up at that NOC could potentially be having a look at your email. Nobody seems to be focused on that. We certainly are."
Bringing up Nike and Disney, while a little nepotistic given the relationships, as well as pointing to academic institution Stanford, put some real-world business deployment on the table. Apple sure does seem serious.
So, should RIM worry? Will legions of CrackBerry addicts give up their hardware keyboards and defect, en-masse, to Apple's Mobile Platform? Or are they immune to the famed Reality Distortion Field, and laughing even now at Apple's eye-candy attempts to woo IT? Is Gruber right, "This doesn’t make the iPhone a BlackBerry killer, but the iPhone can do more BlackBerry-ish things than the BlackBerry can do iPhone-ish things." What do you think?