BlackBerry unveiled its new (and delayed) operating system BB10 for smartphones last week, and two handsets: the Q10, which retains the characteristic QWERTY keyboard, and the Z10, an all touch smartphone. But as BlackBerry looks to reneter the market with a bang, should the revamped phone maker throw its lure to you, the end user, or your boss, the guy with the power to assign work phones approved for office use?
At its peak, the BlackBerry had its fans in hordes of workaholic, executives, members of congress and experts, composing emails at will, with just one hand and a tiny keyboard, talking and walking at the same time. But now BlackBerry is preparing for a battle it cannot afford to lose. So the one looming question hanging overhead: will the fresh face of BlackBerry be cool to users, in particular corporate users, to regain its reputation as the first choice of business smartphone?
Appealing to the enterprise (again)
BlackBerry has clearly demonstrated that the company retains considerable skill and expertise in hardware and software design; the Z10 is beautiful, and BB10 is a giant leap forward from BlackBerry’s previous platform. But to prove its continued viability and potential for renewed consumer interest, the company must convince multiple constituents to invest in BB10: its current and former users, application developers, mobile operators, and content providers. The viciously competitive smartphone market will only offer BlackBerry a short window to do this, and the stakes are high.
BlackBerry’s big appeal has always been its security features. Many BlackBerry users us BlackBerries solely because they offer an employer advantage in protecting corporate networks, allowing employees to work securely on the move.
Bridging the IT divide
The way BlackBerry handsets can be controlled and operated by IT department in an enterprise through BlackBerry Enterprise Server (BES) has kept the device among the most secure compared to others. But in recent years, more and more employees use their personal iPhones or Android smartphones for work, creating a divide between IT and workers that the new BlackBerry hopes to bridge.
BlackBerry recognizes that its primary clients are highly regulated industries, such as the government and the financial sector, who have battled with mobility’s ongoing security issues. The company recently launched BlackBerry Enterprise Service 10, a device management system for corporations that can manage BlackBerry devices and those of rival platforms iOS and Android, to work seamlessly in both personal and work mode.
Focus on emerging markets
To gain success with the new enterprise-ready software offering, BlackBerry must persuade CIOs to upgrade to something radically new. BlackBerry should also work to attract more businesses in emerging markets, focusing on its security features and support. This could help BlackBerry distinguish itself from other mobile platforms, iOS and Android, as well as the new kid on the block – Windows Phone 8.
Persuade the user instead?
Consumerization trends have irreversably impacted the enterprise sector, made all the more evident by the downfall of RIM and the rise of the smartphone. User choice has made its mark on corporate IT, forcing entire industries to rethink mobile security, productivity and the role of the cloud. While consumers have revolutionized the music industry, Hollywood and print media alike, the office has become an unexpected frontier.
The mobile consumer trend has penetrated corporate America like a virus, riding in on the smartphone as its carrier host. But many companies are using this to their advantage. Many cloud providers seeking entry into the enterprise are targeting the employee first. It’s the regular workers that are choosing their own work devices now, turning to their preferred collaboration platforms in the cloud to manage their jobs more efficiently. So is it the consumer BlackBerry must first attract, taking a back door strategy to regain the interest of the enterprise?
This is an important theme we’ll be discussing in upcoming articles this week, and one that Wikibon analyst Stu Miniman has already touched on during a recent appearance on our morning NewsDesk show, with Kristin Feledy. Miniman insists that the role of the consumer (end-user) is extremely valuable to BlackBerry with its latest handsets, and that this is where BlackBerry’s focus should be. See Miniman’s full analysis below.