BlackBerry 10 Brings Balance to Businesses, But…January 30, 2013
This morning, the company formerly known as RIM held an event to launch BlackBerry 10. After some awkward hype (though nothing as awkward as Qualcomm’s CES event), the long-awaited BB10 devices and operating system were finally unveiled.
The two phones are nothing to write home about: the looks-like-every-other-touchscreen Z10 and the looks-like-every-other-BlackBerry Q10. Rather, BlackBerry’s future relies on the all-new BB10 operating system that both phones run. I was impressed by some of its new features, but as I mentioned on Twitter earlier:
It’s telling that the predominant sentiment is “fingers crossed for RIM” rather than “take my money, RIM!”
— Mike Battista (@Mike_Rochip) January 30, 2013
That sentiment still seems to hold true after the announcement, but there are a few new features that will make businesses pay attention, if not hop back on the BlackBerry BandWagon:
One of the trickiest issues that clients ask me about is separating personal data from corporate data, especially in a bring-your-own-device (BYOD) situation. When a device is used for work and for play, it’s difficult to keep the two from mixing when they shouldn’t. Mobile device management (MDM) vendors are attempting to solve this problem, but their solutions often involve juggling several unfamiliar apps and/or jumping through multiple security hoops.
BlackBerry Balance simplifies separation by baking it right into the operating system. Regardless of which app is being used, a simple gesture switches between a personal profile and a corporate profile. BlackBerry claims that it is physically impossible for data to travel between them when it shouldn’t. This should satisfy both workers and IT, easily being able to organize work and personal items in a secure manner. It puts BlackBerry back on the map with an enterprise-specific feature unique to the BB10 platform, though I expect Apple, Google, and Microsoft will introduce similar OS-level profiles to catch up.
Keyboard, Messaging, and FaceTime BBM Video
BlackBerry’s focus has been on sending messages on the go. With their new touchscreen keyboard on the Z10, they renew this focus. The ability for the phone to suggest and insert entire words should prevent some salacious accidental autocorrects, and may even speed up typing once people get used to it. For those still hung up on physical keyboards, the Q10 has one of those.
Video has also been added to BBM. While it may seem like a yawn-inducing FaceTime clone at first, the ability to share your screen could find use in BlackBerry shops, either for better collaboration between workers, or for help desk to better remotely support BlackBerrys by taking a direct look at what’s on the screen.
Not Too Little, but Definitely Too Late
These are just a few of the neat new features that set BlackBerry 10 apart from other platforms. However, these neat features come years after the last major BlackBerry upgrade, during which iOS and Android have continued to mature. Will it be enough to lure businesses back to Black?
Here’s the major problem: BlackBerry 10 is essentially a new platform. A business beginning to support BB10 requires a major upgrade to BlackBerry Enterprise Server Service, and is not much different than beginning to support iOS or Android (e.g., through MDM). Thus, BlackBerry has lost any advantage it could have had in appealing to existing BlackBerry shops. If workers are demanding iPhones and Samsungs, why not just give them what they want? A year ago, BlackBerry Balance and other business-centric features would have been the answer, but today, there is far less momentum for them to ride on.
BlackBerry promised some awesome devices running an awesome operating system today, but in the fast-moving world of mobile, I think they left the awesome for too late. Of course, that could change at any time.
P.S. I’ll be at Mobile World Congress with fellow analyst Mark Tauschek starting February 25. Keep an eye on our Twitter feeds (@Mike_Rochip and @mtauschek) for what’s sure to be some huge mobile news.This entry was posted in Hot Topics, News & Analysis, What's New in Research and tagged Blackberry, BYOD, consumerization, mdm, mobile. Bookmark the permalink.