— Nick Dawson (@nckdwsn) October 7, 2013
BlackBerry was at GTEC 2013 in Ottawa, talking to its most loyal customer: government. In terms of enterprise mobility topics, BlackBerry is focused on BES 10, Multi-Platform Enterprise Mobility Management, security and BlackBerry 10.
One of the more interesting tidbits at the show was during a presentation on enterprise mobility by a BlackBerry employee who was promoting BES 10. This employee told the crowd that BlackBerry is the only smartphone on the market that’s NSA-proof. The presenter claimed that the NSA has put out an official statement that BlackBerry is the only platform they haven’t been able to monitor. This statement seems to be completely undocumented because I haven’t been able to find it (perhaps a reader can point to it). Completely contrary to this statement, Der Spiegel and The Guardian (via Snowden) have all pointed to the NSA having easy access to both BES and BIS.
Speaking of BES, BlackBerry is doing a great job of moving in the direction of multi-platform device management. Currently, you can manage BlackBerry, Android and iOS devices on a secure network. At the conference, we were told that the company is working on integrating Windows Phone into the platform, but that it’s not guaranteed to end up on the roadmap. Some good news regarding BES is that 90% of the Canadian government has upgraded to BES 10.
“Some good news regarding BES is that 90% of the Canadian government has upgraded to BES 10.”
When discussing BlackBerry 10 and BES, you can’t help but bring up the PlayBook. The PlayBook could still fit a product niche, being one of the few tablets that has government and defense department approval, so why did they stop production? The reason is simple economics. According to one BlackBerry employee at the conference, when you include the bill of materials, labour, and sales overhead, a PlayBook costs the company about $350. When you’re selling the PlayBook at $100 and you can buy a 7″ Android tablet for $129, there’s not much of a reason to be in the market.
With the announcements around BlackBerry’s ability to manage multiple platforms on BES, as well as the many different systems that integrate with BB10, one can’t but help but wonder if it’s too much. Even if the company drops BlackBerry 7 and below entirely, right now, it still has a pretty big product portfolio, as well as an even bigger potential portfolio through BB10 and QNX. Should BlackBerry even be talking about cars right now?