Lazaridis lives enterprise mobility. As co-CEO and president of Research In Motion, the BlackBerry maker, he's the man who brought wireless push email to handhelds in the late 1990s, changing the way businesspeople use mobile phones forever.
Since that time, RIM has made a name for itself inside enterprises as the smartphone maker to go to for high-quality, reliable - and most importantly, secure - devices and associated infrastructure. That reputation can largely be attributed to Lazaridis's strategy and leadership.
In mid-May, RIM held its seventh annual Wireless Enterprise Symposium in Orlando, where CIO's Al Sacco met with Lazaridis to talk about the future of enterprise mobility, the competition, and more.
The Apple iPhone
Lazaridis talks about the iPhone like a car enthusiast who drives a Bentley might talk about a shiny, new Ford Mustang: Nice, but just not for him - or, in this case, his customers, either.
"The iPhone and BlackBerry are two very different tools," Lazaridis says. He calls Apple's device a "multimedia machine" and the BlackBerry a business tool for "power users."
He won't say that RIM doesn't consider Apple a legitimate competitor in the enterprise smartphone space, but with a smirk he cites two reasons why he thinks the iPhone has a way to go before it's a true BlackBerry rival. First of all: Security.
Mike Lazaridis, RIM co-CEO
"An eleven-year-old could crack the iPhone's security," he says. "Who wants that? Security is very important to our customers."
Secondly, Lazaridis says BlackBerry power users simply aren't satisfied with the iPhone's touch screen for text entry. RIM customers say they cannot type as fast or as effectively on a touchscreen, and that's one big reason why the BlackBerry is a more suitable business device, he says.
That does not, however, mean that RIM won't release a device with a touchscreen or other unique user interface and text entry method in the future.
"We're experimenting with a number of very interesting technologies," Lazaridis says.
But the iPhone's lack of security features and a physical keyboard are enough to make him confident that RIM's title as king of the enterprise smartphone space is secure, Lazaridis says.
"You wouldn't walk up a professional photographer and ask him to do his job" with a throwaway camera, Lazardis says.
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