The inexorable rise of the BlackBerry

Research in Motion has always traditionally targeted big corporates with its BlackBerries. Now, however, the focus is moving towards the SME.

Sarah Probert, director at RIM, tells RB why small firms are getting excited about the widget. ?We?ve made the BlackBerry software more relevant for small businesses,? she says. ?Take the Enterprise Server, we?ve simplified it, reduced the IT policies and made it plug and play. It?s now called BlackBerry Professional and is tailor-made for the modern SME.?

RIM research shows that 71 per cent of small business owners are out of the office twice or more times per week. That?s made clinching deals on the move and keeping to-to-date with financial information all the more crucial. Perhaps this accounts for the huge uptake of BlackBerries.

Chris Whittam, managing director of Chester-based Ellis Whittam, is a big fan. ?I?m no longer afraid to leave the office in case I miss an important email or call,? he says. ?My BlackBerry smartphone enables me to be responsive to the 100-plus emails I receive every day, no matter where I am.

?In fact, I was on the train to London the other day when I received a pricing enquiry. I was able to email back the answer via my BlackBerry, allowing the deal to be closed by the time I?d arrived at my destination.?

Nifty! But there?s another reason that entrepreneurs are crazy about these widgets. ?The blurring of personal and professional is a lot more prevalent among small business owners,? says Probert. ?BlackBerries have become much nicer looking: sleek, less clunky, in a variety of colours.?

And with the launch of the BlackBerry Bold which features video streaming and music player, it looks to be less work and more play for Mr SME.

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