Nokia Grabs RIM by the Tail

Nokia seems unstoppable at the moment. After announcing its cheapest-ever phone last week (the 1202 at €25) and a touch-screen smartphone for substantially less than the iPhone, it has turned its sights on the market for business qwerty devices with the announcement of the E63.

Nokia advert for e-mail

This slightly de-featured version of the highly acclaimed E71 comes with an eye-popping retail price of €199 before taxes and subsidy.

That puts the E63 firmly within the reach of the upper end of the prepaid market. It’s comfortably in the “free on a contract” space and is far cheaper than similarly featured devices from RIM, Palm and HTC.

Nokia’s new confidence is also on display in the full-page advert it has been running in the papers (shown on the right), declaring that its Mail for Exchange service allows access to Microsoft Outlook with “no additional infrastructure or licensing fees”. The advert goes on to invite readers to find out how to “stop wasting money on costly email service” — a blatant reference to RIM’s business model, which involves a license fee for each BlackBerry user connected to its service.

I’m sure Nokia’s approach comes as no surprise to RIM and the company is far from complacent. It has seen an endless stream of so-called “BlackBerry killers” over the last five years, but they have usually not amounted to much. And Microsoft’s e-mail services have been using a similar marketing message to Nokia’s for some time, with little impact.

However, it must be a daunting prospect to face the competitive threat that seems to be emerging from Nokia, a company that has historically had no qualms about lining up competitors in its sights and hitting them where it hurts — just ask Motorola in India.