The makers of BlackBerrys (BlackBerries?), Research in Motion, announced Tuesday at the Mobile World Congress Expo in Barcelona that they will begin offering a slightly watered down version of BlackBerry Enterprise Server for free. This new product, labeled BlackBerry Enterprise Server Express is compatible with Microsoft Exchange version 2k3 through 2010. The product is specifically targeted at medium and small businesses that want the functionality and security of BlackBerry devices, but have not made the move because of the historically high costs of purchasing the enterprise server package. Their traditional paid server software will be rolling out new features such as integration with Video Conferencing and PBX systems on their customer's premise.

I see this as a good move on RIM's part, as the competition in the Smartphone market is really heating up. With the iPhone and Android based phones slowly gaining adoption in corporate environments, and the announcement of Windows Mobile 7, they needed to do something to remain competitive in the marketplace. It will be interesting to see if Microsoft can regain market share with it new Windows Mobile 7 later this year, as preliminary reviews show that it is a much more consumer friendly device than previous versions, and it has the inherent integration with Microsoft Exchange, without any specialized software to manage security (unlike the BlackBerry, Androids, and iPhone).

If your organization is currently licensing BlackBerry server software, you may want to follow RIM's development and release schedule to see if you can drop your licensing fees without sacrificing functionality of your staff's devices.
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William Dorn

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  1. Updated comment on this older post about BES Express. It also allows lower cost service plans, so the cost is much lower to either company or individual paying the monthly bill.

    Andy Gordon