The Web Worker Daily blog reports on a survey from webcredible that suggests that 33% of mobile phone users feel that email is still the most needed mobile utility. The blog post goes on to suggest that this is one of the reasons that (in the US at least) the iPhone quickly attained the status of second best selling 'smartphone', after the BlackBerry.
Both RIM and Apple have, in their different ways, taken email seriously as an application. They have both done their best to provide for the user an email interface that works well on these small form factor devices and have reaped the rewards, something that many other manufacturers seem to have neglected to do.
But there's more to a good user experience than a nice interface. Ensuring that the appropriate standards are used would be another step in the right direction, so that the user does not suffer from the poor performance one would get implementing protocols designed for desktop operation on devices that have limited storage and relatively low bandwidth.
Smartphone device manufacturers who decide to combine a decent user interface with the appropriate open standards for handling and delivering email (such as the LEMONADE profile that we've talked about previously) still have a chance to stake out a commanding market position.