The Good Alternative
RIM'S TOUGHEST-TALKING RIVAL HAS JUST 2,600 CUSTOMERS—BUT IT ALSO HAS A PLAN TO LET THE PC INDUSTRY IN ON THE WIRELESS E-MAIL BONANZA.
By Erick Schonfeld

(Business 2.0) – As a former Netscape executive, Danny Shader learned the hard way what happens when you try to go head-to-head with Microsoft. So when he launched Good Technology, he had Microsoft clearly in mind—as a company that could help him challenge RIM in the market for wireless e-mail. RIM had that market to itself in the late 1990s by creating its own operating system to run its BlackBerry handhelds. While RIM began licensing its technology to run on other devices only last year, Shader thinks he has a smarter idea—selling a wireless e-mail package that runs on the same OS and software programs common to most PCs and handhelds.

On a Microsoft Pocket PC, Good software lets users boot up a miniature version of their desktop Outlook e-mail program. A Good-powered handheld can also sync up with other Outlook features (such as calendar and contacts) over the air without a cradle—a feature that RIM is only now catching up to. So far, Good's software works with both the Palm and Pocket PC operating systems and can be installed on Motorola's upcoming MPx smartphone.

While the wireless carriers are RIM's top customers, Good sells directly to corporate CIOs, who can choose whatever hardware and software combinations they want for their mobile workers. About 2,600 corporate customers have signed up for Good's services.

That pales in comparison with the 24,000-plus corporations RIM has signed up, but Shader thinks he can narrow the gap. "Think about all the things RIM has to do better than anyone else," Shader says. "It has to be a better retailer than PalmOne, a better data company than Dell, and sell a better OS than Microsoft." All Good has to do, he adds, is concentrate on making e-mail software—and leave it up to the PC industry to do the rest.

RIM, though, isn't making that task easy. Last year the company sued Good for patent infringement on its e-mail software, after Good asked the court to invalidate the patents. Ultimately, Shader decided to settle—and agreed to pay RIM ongoing royalties. — E.S.