Google makes for a better Blackberry

Research in Motion (the company that makes the Blackberry) should stay on its toes. While I think there is room for multiple companies and I love the Blackberry, they need to keep innovating in order to compete in a market that now includes Apple’s iPhone and eventually some Google Android-based products. I hope every company who makes smartphones is losing sleep over the competition. That fear will drive innovation.

Both Apple and Google represent a new breed of competitor far different from Microsoft, Nokia, Palm, or any of the other incumbents in the field. They are companies with Vision and, more importantly, companies with the resources to realize their Vision. Everyone can dream up radical ideas and strategies, but few can execute them.

While Apple is making serious inroads with the iPhone, Google is the company everyone should worry about because they can touch everyone else without trying to get a slice of the same highly-contested pie. Leaving aside their Android project (a free smartphone OS), let’s look at what they do.

Even though the iPhone is closed to other third-party applications, Google provides native software for the iPhone (Google maps and a special YouTube-viewing application). They also provide downloadable apps for every other smartphone platform. On my Blackberry for example, I regularly use five different Google applications: the Google Maps for Mobile app with My Location (instead of Blackberry Maps or GPS), the Google Talk IM client, the Gmail app, Google Mobile Sync (which syncs the Blackberry Calendar and the Google Calendar. I use this now instead of Blackberry Enterprise Server and Microsoft Exchange, which has saved me $30 a month), and Google Mobile Updater (which checks for new versions of Google Software). This is not including the website I visit the most via the Blackberry web browser: Google Reader.

The truth is, Google improves my Blackberry experience. I don’t know if that should make Research in Motion or Apple nervous, but it is definitely significant.

Leaving aside any speculation on their plans for the 700 Mhz spectrum auction or the potential success of Android, it is not difficult to imagine that Google might eventually be the most important company in the smartphone universe by continuing to provide better and better tools to as many people as possible.

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