Droid Pro Attacks RIM's Business Niche

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Research In Motion ( RIMM) took a couple broadsides this week: Motorola ( MOT) introduced its intended BlackBerry killer Droid Pro and an IT survey showed that RIM's business user market is eroding.

Motorola unveiled its Droid Pro for Verizon ( VZ) Tuesday night in San Francisco ahead of a wireless tech conference there this week. The Google ( GOOG) Android-powered Droid Pro combines a 3.1-inch touchscreen with a full portrait keyboard that seems to answer many BlackBerry fans' burning requests.
Droid Pro

The arrival of the Pro comes as RIM continues to fall behind in the smartphone race, which is led by Android phones and Apple's ( AAPL) iPhone. And while consumer demand has driven the touchscreen trend, it seems the influence is spreading to business users who are eager to swap their BlackBerries for a new generation of application-driven Web-friendly devices.

The trend is a destructive one for RIM's prized enterprise niche.

RIM is expected to lose 29 percentage points of market share in North American-based businesses, according to a Morgan Stanley survey of chief information officers released Wednesday.

According to the Morgan Stanley tally, RIM's share of the business market will fall to 14.6% in 2012 from the 45% level in February of this year.

RIM continues to enjoy a healthy international expansion as its BlackBerry phones enter new markets, but the success has masked the company's shortcomings, particularly its inability to adapt quickly to the touchscreen competition.

The release of the BlackBerry Torch this summer was a small step but not likely enough to get RIM back in the leader pack.

The competition will dramatically heat up for RIM in the coming weeks as Microsoft ( MSFT) and its phone partners release Windows 7 devices aimed at the Android and Apple market.

--Written by Scott Moritz in New York.

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