iOn the Prize: Apple, RIM scrap getting interesting

As we all lingered anxiously for Steve Jobs to launch the highly touted iPhone 2.0 early this month, I noticed a unique anomaly evolve subsequent to the famous keynote lead by our turtlenecked cult leader. Unless you are still kickin’ it with your Motorola StarTAC and you simply don’t care about this tug-of-war, your basic public perception of this market centers on the iPhone being aimed at the consumer while Blackberry would continue to woo executives.

The aforementioned would be a safe market discernment one would think, however, with Apple’s latest launch, they are now seeking to see more of their devices in boardrooms, touting new email functions and faster speeds. You see, the iPhone was the second-most popular phone in the first quarter of 2008, with about 19% market share, second only to Research In Motion’s Blackberry, which had 45% market share, according to IDC. But Apple seems confident in their enterprise penetration; they even moved some pricing around by dropping the device cost to $199 and upping the AT&T service charges a bit to compensate for the device, which costs $173 to build by the way. Why did they do this? My guess is based on some fun facts I learned last year … also according to IDC, nearly 80% of smartphones are purchased by end users without the knowledge of IT departments but are still being used for corporate responsibilities. This means (DISCLOSURE: broad assumption coming) users are likely expensing all, or some, of their cell charges for work done on their own time so the extra expense will be easy to burry.

So what would be the Blackberry response? An aggressive PR and marketing campaign aimed at keeping their business users? It doesn’t appear that way; in ads spreading like wildfire, Blackberry seems to be targeting Apple’s bread-and-butter consumer market. Recent TV and viral video spots highlight ‘Life on Blackberry’ users playing soccer and even vacationing with family – giving the perception of blending their corporate device with their personal life, or even more boldly implying to use Blackberry only at home … its up to the public to interpret but the message is pretty clear.

More questions: What will be the public’s perception of RIMs new campaign? What drove this approach? Are they angry with Apple moving in on their turf? Are they confident in their enterprise dominance and this is simply a counterpunch? Will this be perceived as corporate arrogance or perhaps a bit of a panic?

Time will tell, but this user is still drunk on the iPhone Kool-Aid so I am a bit ashamed to say that I will be first in line for the new flavor debut July 11th. But I certainly do applaud RIM’s new campaign and will keep my front row to witness the final knockout … who do you think will be left standing?

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