Blackberry-maker Research In Motion has acquired the assets of DataViz for an undisclosed sum. The firm's most popular app, known as Documents To Go, comes pre-loaded on some BlackBerry models, but RIM has not disclosed the fate of the app for other platforms.
Documents To Go is an all-in-one application with support for Microsoft Word, Excel and PowerPoint documents, as well as Adobe PDF, Apple iWork and other files and attachments. Documents To Go also offers a desktop application that makes possible two-way file synchronization, and a version that supports Google Docs, Box.net, Dropbox, iDisk and SugarSync.
"RIM has acquired some of the assets of DataViz and hired the majority of its employees to focus on supporting the BlackBerry platform," RIM said in a published statement. Documents To Go is available on the BlackBerry, iPhone, iPod and iPad, as well Windows Mobile and the Android platforms.
A Boon for QuickOffice?
Michael Disabato, managing vice president of Network and Telecom at Gartner, is not clear on RIM's motives for acquiring DataViz. As he sees it, Documents To Go works well on the Palm and the iPhone, but BlackBerry screens are so small that using standard desktop apps can be a "painful experience."
"I don't understand how the app is going to work on a screen that small. You need something about the size of an iPhone to make this work," Disabato said. "If I put on my paranoid stifle-the-competition hat, RIM could possibly be taking an application that's very popular away from the iPhone and the iPad."
Of course, Documents To Go isn't the only app of its type on the market. QuickOffice is competing for the same user base. QuickOffice Connect Mobile Suite integrates access to remote cloud services within a full Microsoft Office suite. As with Documents To Go, users can view and edit Microsoft Word, Excel and PowerPoint documents, and view PDF files. QuickOffice works with Android, Apple, Palm and Symbian devices.
"If RIM takes Documents To Go an makes it BlackBerry only, it would absolutely alienate the iPhone consumers and Android consumers," Disabato said. "And if RIM screws up Documents To Go, people will abandon it and move to QuickOffice in a heartbeat. QuickOffice has to be salivating because now they know the feature set they have to develop to get people to move."
RIM's App World
According to IDC, RIM held 17.8 percent of the smartphone market in the second quarter this year. While RIM is a force to be reckoned with on the corporate side of the smartphone world, the company may be losing business customers to competing platforms. RIM's market share is down nearly two percentage points from a year ago. Analysts have repeatedly said RIM needs to beef up its App World, which starts with incentivizing developers to move to the platform.
The DataViz acquisition comes after rumors in August that RIM was talking to Millennial Media about acquiring the mobile ad-network to help app developers make money. Millennial is the largest pure-play mobile-ad network left after its competitors were scooped up by RIM rivals. Google announced plans to acquire AdMob for $750 million in November 2009, and Apple followed suit by acquiring Quattro Wireless for an undisclosed amount in January 2010.