Recently, RIM was at GTEC, Canada’s Government Technology Event, where Paul Lucier, Head of Global Government Solutions, was talking about BYOD, BES 10 and a little bit of BlackBerry 10. During the same day, RIM was also presenting its progress on BlackBerry 10 at the Fairmont Chateau Laurier. While there wasn’t much new on the BlackBerry 10 side of things (at least since what we saw at BlackBerry Jam), it was interesting to see RIM tout its FIPS certifications and announce that BlackBerry 10 was FIPS certified before launch (an industry first). But RIM isn’t unique in its ability to get FIPS certification. Other smartphones will get it. So what is RIM’s competitive advantage in a market where its competitors are also FIPS certified?
RIM still has 3 major pillars in a market with FIPS saturation:
1. Peak and Flow
While Peak and Flow are largely consumer features, it’s about productivity and this appeals to Enterprise. (NOTE: To any bureaucrats reading, here is the definition of productivity for reference). One of the reasons BYOD has become so prevalent is because enterprise and consumer are merging in that both demand compelling user experiences and the desire to be on the cutting edge of technology. Peak and Flow will surely provide a unique enough user experience to keep the early and late adopters both satisfied.
2. BES and the Network
Even if an organization has 10,000 iPhones, 5,000 Android devices and a single BlackBerry, it will probably still make sense for IT to deploy BES with Mobile Fusion (or whatever the final product will be called, most likely just BES 10). According to a recent study, after one year, the cost to securely manage non-BlackBerry devices using a Walled Garden architecture was found to be 39% more expensive than BlackBerry devices in a BlackBerry Enterprise Server deployment.
BlackBerry’s network will also still provide a competitive advantage for Enterprise customers that want reliability, especially during disaster scenarios. RIM is unique in owning the entire stack from network, hardware and device management. It’s unlikely that Apple will roll out a similar solution any time soon.
3. Absolute Enterprise Security
We have seen a plethora of news articles around governments demanding RIM give governments access to enterprise data. The fact is, it’s simply not possible for RIM to do. The keys to this data exist behind a firewall and even if RIM could somehow hack its way in, the data you would get would be in small packets and would be all but useless to you. It’s this end-to-end security that is part of RIM’s DNA that other manufacturers are going to have a very tough time replicating.
While RIM’s announcements around FIPS certification are interesting and definitely a competitive advantage, it’s only a matter of time until Apple has a FIPS certified device as well. Not only will other devices get FIPS certification, but it’s possible we’ll see more devices with the same level of FIPS certification that RIM touts. The competitive advantages described above are much more difficult to replicated and will ensure RIM has a solid footing in those core government and enterprise accounts.