Is BlackBerry 10 Enough to Keep Businesses Interested?
Added by Shawn Drew on May 4, 2012
RIM recently introduced parts of its new BlackBerry 10 operating system at a recent conference, and while the initial reports may be positive, some questions remain about the company's longevity. With BlackBerry's U.S. market share residing almost solely in the hands of business, IT managers at midsize companies that use RIM's devices need to be acutely aware of a potential shift in BlackBerry offerings toward more consumer-based devices.
The New BlackBerry OS
The BlackBerry World Conference in Orlando had several highlights: The new CEO Thorsten Heins took to the stage, and the company introduced some features of the new BlackBerry operating system. The BB10 OS, which had to be renamed from BBX after a lawsuit last year, is designed to be RIM's solution to its market share problem, which has steadily declined in the wake of the iOS and Android explosions.
According to PCMag, just a few of the OS's features were introduced at the conference. The new OS centers around panes, which allow users to pull apps to one side to see other currently running applications. Users can then switch between apps while keeping the old ones running and updating in the background. RIM also showed off the OS's new camera functionality, which includes a way to step certain areas of the picture back in time briefly to correct last-second fidgets by the subject.
Of course, the most talked about feature was the virtual keyboard. As detailed by The Washington Post, it's not that the keyboard was bad; in fact, it seemed to be pretty well done. But there was talk over the possibility that RIM might finally abandon its physical keyboard, one of the company's few remaining hallmarks. Heins claimed that there would be devices with physical keyboard in the BB10 portfolio, but made no mention of how many of those types of devices there would be.
No exact release date has been announced, although Heins claimed that BB10 devices would ship in 2012.
Midsize Businesses and Smartphones
It's no secret that RIM has been hemorrhaging customers over the past few years, with iOS and Android absorbing almost all of RIM's churn, but the business and government sectors aren't yet willing to give up on the company. The reason for the reluctance is simple--security. Attacks against IT departments only grow more numerous each year, and smartphones and tablets are quickly becoming a prime target for malware. In light of those issues, no mobile platform can come close to what a BlackBerry Enterprise Server offers in terms of security.
This dependency on RIM is often most prevalent in midsize companies, as they are too small to properly develop their own security solutions and too big to effectively manage a bring-your-own-device (BYOD) solution. While the BlackBerry was a fine solution for these types of companies, IT managers have to wonder if it is now worth investing in a mobile manufacturer that may not be around in a few years.
The BlackBerry 10 OS, by itself, won't answer that question. So far, the OS looks fairly good and has some decent developer support, but good operating systems have come and gone before without attracting enough attention to stick around. The future of RIM will come down to a large number of factors, but IT departments currently deploying BlackBerry devices should feel good that the company has seemed to right the ship and learn from its past mistakes. Still, IT managers need to carefully watch the release of BB10 devices later in 2012 to determine if the company continues to deserve their investment.
This post was written as part of the IBM for Midsize Business program, which provides midsize businesses with the tools, expertise and solutions they need to become engines of a smarter planet. Like us on Facebook. Follow us on Twitter.