We're No. 3! BlackBerry's Stumble Gives Microsoft a Leg Up in Smartphones

Photographer: David Paul Morris/Bloomberg

Later today at a company conference, Microsoft will showcase how software developers can build programs that take advantage of the Web-based Office 365, Chief Executive Officer Steve Ballmer said in a speech at the show yesterday. Close

Later today at a company conference, Microsoft will showcase how software developers... Read More

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Photographer: David Paul Morris/Bloomberg

Later today at a company conference, Microsoft will showcase how software developers can build programs that take advantage of the Web-based Office 365, Chief Executive Officer Steve Ballmer said in a speech at the show yesterday.

Companies usually don't aspire to be in third place. But in the competitive smartphone market, Microsoft will happily occupy that spot instead of BlackBerry, which is stumbling with its new touch-screen handset.

As my colleague Peter Burrows reported, Google and Apple's dominant positions in the mobile market have left corporate IT departments wondering which company -- BlackBerry or Microsoft -- will be the third option.

That question may have been answered last week, when Waterloo, Ontario-based BlackBerry disclosed weaker-than-expected sales of the Z10. The new model was designed to take on high-end devices such as the iPhone and Samsung's Galaxy S4, which runs on Google's Android.

Pete Devenyi, senior vice president of enterprise software for BlackBerry, said corporate adoption of software for managing BlackBerry phones has been "very much in accordance with our expectations."

BlackBerry's latest struggles boost the likelihood of Microsoft’s Windows Phone becoming a credible third alternative, according to Bob Tinker, CEO of MobileIron, which makes smartphone-management software used by 5,000 companies.

“Most of our customers have been planning to support three mobile operating systems -- iOS, Android and either Windows Phone or BlackBerry,” Tinker said. “The recent results indicate that BlackBerry is not going to be the third.”

For Microsoft, the bronze medal never looked so good.

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