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Researchers in motion--as they move to RIM rival

BlackBerry maker and PlayBook hopeful Research In Motion has recently seen at least five members of its enterprise sales force defect to Apple, a report says.

As Research In Motion waits for its PlayBook tablet to counter incursions onto its enterprise turf by Apple's iPhone and iPad gadgets, some of RIM's enterprise sales force have apparently decided not to wait--they've defected to the competition.

Stuart Weinberg of The Wall Street Journal did a little sniffing around on LinkedIn and discovered that in the last year and a half, at least five members of RIM's enterprise sales team have jumped ship and joined Steve Jobs and Co.

Those onetime Researchers In Motion are:

  • Geoff Perfect, former head of strategic sales at RIM, who, according to Weinberg's LinkedIn findings, has become head of enterprise iPhone sales at Apple;
  • Joe Bartlett, a senior global sales manager at RIM, who's now pitching the iPhone and iPad to companies in New England;
  • Steve Marshall, a global strategic account manager at RIM, who's now an iPhone sales rep for the Greater New York City area;
  • Peter Decker, a global account manager at RIM, now also an iPhone sales rep for the Greater New York City area; and
  • Paul Alvarez, another former global strategic account manager at RIM, who now works in enterprise iPad and iPhone sales in Canada.
The sales team brain-drain presents another challenge for RIM, which has seen one of the main selling points for its BlackBerry related services--security-- chipped away at by the Apple products, as well as by Google's Android operating system.

RIM is also watching as IT managers increasingly open their arms to the hugely popular iPhone and iPad, largely because so many of their fellow employees already own the devices.

And too, Apple's gadgets enjoy the advantage of having more enterprise apps available to them, a crucial weapon in the fight for customers. It's true that heavy hitters like SAP have voiced their continued support for RIM--but at the same time, they're busily deploying the Apple devices. As noted in Weinberg's Journal article, Apple CFO Peter Oppenheimer said last month that more than 80 percent of Fortune 500 companies are using or testing the iPhone.

Will RIM's PlayBook tablet make a difference in this battle for the enterprise? We'll have to wait until the new year to find out. The device is scheduled to appear in the U.S. in early 2011, with international availability set for the second quarter.