CRM Users Favor BlackBerry Over IPhone: Maximizer

Customer-relationship management vendor Maximizer (TSX: MAX) says most of its mobile CRM users favour the BlackBerry platform, and the ever-changing dynamics of mobility require more frequent platform refreshes, leading to the recently released Maximizer 10.5 Freedom for BlackBerry.

Developed by Vancouver-based Maximizer Software, Maximizer is a portfolio of CRM and contact management solutions for business users. Maximizer Freedom is designed specifically for mobile users to extend the capabilities of their CRM platform to their smartphones said Angie Hirata, worldwide director of marketing and business development for Maximizer.

"This was a mobile-only release," said Hirata. "In our strategy focusing on mobile we realized we needed to have more frequent releases to keep up to date with the dynamic pace of this market. Every quarter something is happening in this market. Users are demanding faster updates and new features."

Hirata said they're also finding most of their users are choosing the BlackBerry platform. Maximizer does support Windows Mobile through an app that installs on the device to allow access to some offline data, but the demand isn't nearly as high as for BlackBerry. All the other major mobile platforms are also supported through Web access, but that method requires connectivity for data access.

"We've been starting to get some inquiries about the iPhone in the last few months, with some customers saying they're trying to centralize on one platform but some field sales staff are buying iPhones for personal use and are asking IT for business support," said Hirata. "That's a situation where Web access is perfect. It addresses security concerns as no data is left on the device."

With some SMBs looking at the iPhone more seriously as a corporate mobile platform and some customers asking for offline support, Hirata said Maximizer is considering expanding its iPhone support and continues to monitor the market.

"BlackBerry may be winning right now in the enterprise market, but the market can change very quickly," said Hirata.

For now, though, the focus is on the BlackBerry and Hirata said Maximizer 10.5 Freedom features developments in three key areas.

The first is a wireless deployment option. Since mobile users are rarely in the office, IT needs a way to push applications and updates out to them without using the BlackBerry cable and desktop manager.

Now IT can send an update link by e-mail that competes the install, requiring only a reboot by the user.

The second is new mobile dashboards. Designed to address the other mobile user, not the power use but the travelling executive that needs a snapshot of key business metrics, this allows the executive to pull-up anything they're tracking in Maximizer as a mobile dashboard.

And third, the new release includes support for the BlackBerry Storm, leveraging the touchscreen and swipe interactivity enabled by the new device.

Licensing for the mobile access is per user, and companies can choose between three access options for their users: Windows desktop, Web and mobile device. Currently, Hirata said customers aren't choosing to go mobile-only, but are using a combination of the three.

In North America, Maximizer does about half its business through the channel, and Hirata said they have a strong network of authorized resellers and certified partners.

"We're focusing quite a bit on mobility, and on talking to and recruiting VARs who are focused on mobile solutions," said Hirata, noting Maximizer's traditional VAR base has been more office-focused. "We're encouraging our partners to promote mobile solutions, and we're also recruiting new mobile VARs."

Margins for Maximizer partners can range from 10 to 30 per cent, and the vendor also offers a technical certification program that includes training and workshops, and offers full technical support, lead generation and joint co-marketing opportunities.

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