Apple Recruits From RIM for iPhone Enterprise Sales

Apple has hired five sales execs from Research In Motion over the last 18 months, according to the Dow Jones news service. The sales guys are now peddling iPhones, rather than BlackBerrys, to the enterprise space, RIM’s strong suit in the smartphone market.

The five former RIM employees served the company in various sales capacities, including Geoff Perfect, who was Head of Strategic Sales and worked at RIM for five years before leaving the company to join Apple as Head of Enterprise Sales. Following in his footsteps, was Paul Alvarez, who served for a similar time span as RIM’s Global Strategic Account Manager. Dow Jones said he’s now working Enterprise sales in Canada for iPhone and iPad.

The source of the story are the employee’s LinkedIn profiles, though Apple confirmed that all five are employed at the Cupertino company.

Note that these hires took place over 18 months, and thus the information is new, not the hires themselves. Apple has reported that 80% of the Fortune 500 have either deployed or are testing iPhones for their employees, and that means these five former RIM employees were a part of the process of Apple wedging its corporate foot into that market.

Apple and RIM are competing not just with smartphones, but in the tablet space, as well. At least they will be once RIM releases its 7” BlackBerry PlayBook, a tablet based on a new operating system RIM purchased early in 2010. Apple has been dismissive of RIM as a smartphone competitor, and the company has denigrated the 7” form factor RIM is using for the Playbook.

For its part, RIM CEO Jim Balsillie has blasted Apple’s approach of an app-based tablet experience and the company’s use of a walled garden for that app space. The company has also published a video comparing Web browsing speed between the iPad and PlayBook, a video that shows the not-yet-shipping PlayBook as being faster than the iPad.