RIM has confirmed that it purchased a significant portion of DataViz, along with the intellectual property and coding skills behind the popular Documents To Go app. The move will help RIM improve its BlackBerry platform as a business productivity tool, and represents a significant missed opportunity for Microsoft.
I just recently purchased the DataViz Documents To Go app for my iPhone and iPad. It is by far the best app I have found yet for working with Microsoft Office documents on a mobile platform--with the obvious exception of simply getting a Windows Mobile or Windows Phone 7 device and using the native Mobile Office apps developed by Microsoft.
Offering an explanation behind pulling the plug on development of a WebOS version of Documents To Go, Digital Daily reports that RIM confirmed that it "has acquired some of the assets of DataViz and hired the majority of its employees to focus on supporting the BlackBerry platform."
The purchase will allow RIM to develop tighter integration with Microsoft Office for its BlackBerry smartphones and upcoming BlackPad tablet, but other mobile platforms may need to start searching for an alternative solution.
It seems reasonable to assume a similar fate awaits Documents To Go development for other mobile platforms competing with BlackBerry as well. RIM may not necessarily pull versions of Documents To Go off the market, but it might invest little or no effort in maintaining or improving those apps, leaving Documents To Go users on iOS and Android to fade away by attrition. In the meantime, it makes sense for RIM to keep raking in $15 a pop for the mobile app while it lasts.
The company that should have bought DataViz and Documents To Go is Microsoft. Microsoft should recognize that even if its Windows Phone 7 mobile platform is a success, a best-case scenario will probably never exceed 25 percent market share. That leaves 75 percent using competing mobile platforms and in need of tools that provide mobile access to Microsoft Office and Outlook.
By developing Mobile Office only for its own proprietary mobile platform, and with RIM now in control of Documents To Go, iPhone, iPad, and Android users have more reason to at least explore alternatives to Microsoft Office such as the array of cloud-based productivity tools available from Google.
Now that Microsoft missed the opportunity to purchase DataViz and Documents To Go, RIM is an even more compelling target for acquisition. Microsoft can buy its way to the leading position in the smartphone market, and a dominant stake of enterprise mobile communications, and get the intellectual property behind Documents To Go at the same time.