Does BlackBerry Enterprise Service 10 Hurt BlackBerry’s Competitive Advantage?

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With BlackBerry’s new CEO John Chen talking a lot about Enterprise and BlackBerry’s competitive advantage in this space, one can’t help but wonder if BES 10 is helping or hurting their position in the enterprise. In a sense, BlackBerry is sort of enabling enterprise to adopt iOS and Android with BES 10′s BYOD features. On the other hand, the market is going to shift regardless, and you can either sink or swim. It’s an interesting discussion and it seems BlackBerry has taken the stance that BES 10′s BYOD is a must have, because BYOD is the natural evolution of mobility in the enterprise.


John Chen talking about the return to QWERTY.

According to Forrester Research, Apple won about 8% of global business and government spending on computers and tablets in 2012. That’s a decent dent but I’m skeptical of the number. Take for example some of the examples used in how enterprise has adopted iOS.

Examples from the Wall Street Journal article:

“PPL Corp., approved the iPhone for employees in 2010. It then introduced iPads, and built apps such as one to help its helicopter patrollers survey 5,500 miles of high-voltage power lines. Using an iPad’s global-positioning system, patrollers can pinpoint the location of a problem and select from a menu of common issues, such as a damaged pole or an overgrown tree.”

“Warehouse managers use the tablet to scan bar codes and track the utility’s tools and materials.”

These aren’t really examples of introducing iOS into enterprise because the criteria of “being in enterprise” should be that you hold highly sensitive data. The above examples are not in any way sensitive data.

Recently, I wrote about a program to introduce iPads into the Ottawa Hospital. Again, those iPads didn’t seem to carry any critical data. The iPads had mostly charts that were likely wiped off the device after being used while the data is stored on a server.

On the other hand, firms like Cisco have been adopting iOS using BYOD, which is the only true use of iOS and Android in the enterprise, as it involves devices using email on the corporate network. Email is probably the most sensitive data a mobile device can have, since it involves communications about company secrets as well as attachments that could have company intellectual property. Cisco, through BYOD, has nearly three-fourths of the 70,000-plus mobile devices, on iOS. SAP is also a big user of Apple products, deploying about 27,000 iPhones and 25,000 iPads to its employees globally.

Would these organizations be going iOS and Android if they didn’t have solutions like BES 10? Probably. It would eventually happen due to budget constraints and somebody else would push them solutions for BYOD if BlackBerry wasn’t doing it. Companies like MobileIron are enabling large organizations to adopt any device they wish.

For the most part, it seems the transition to BYOD with iOS and Android in the enterprise is slow. These are unsecure platforms and large organizations aren’t exactly thrilled with the idea of corporate sensitive information on devices that are exploitable. At the same time, it’s going to happen regardless. BlackBerry can’t control enterprise forever. The question is: does BES 10 speed up BYOD and therefore loosen the grips on enterprise? Or is BES 10 part of a bigger strategy that gives BlackBerry longevity in a vertical where it knows it can’t have a monopoly forever.

  • http://papogp.com/ Diego Nei, MBA, PMP®

    “These aren’t really examples of introducing iOS into enterprise because the criteria of “being in enterprise” should be that you hold highly sensitive data. The above examples are not in any way sensitive data.”

    That’s a VERY good point. Too bad most people don’t get this.

    My take on this is: BlackBerry had to choose between “do we try to fight till the bitter end and hope nobody can make iOS/Android secure enough for big corps” or “do we make them secure enough for big corps and make sure they will never really be free from the BES golden cage”?

    As you said yourself, BOYD is only natural evolution…

  • Dylan

    The route they have chosen allows the possibility or retaining both strengths. BES10 does not secure iOS and Android fully. Only BB10 devices are truly secure on BES10 and so companies needing grade A security are going to be using both the device and the MDM solution.

    My feeling is that Blackberry needs to maintain this advantage for the next two or three years and then hope that they fall back in favour (cool factor) with consumers in that time. If that happens, the sky is the limit. Essentially, we could see BBRY survive a life cycle, as did Apple years ago.

  • http://about.me/kylemcinnes Kyle McInnes

    I like the way you think. Surviving the downturn with the Enterprise customers and getting in favour with the consumer is actually what happened in the very beginning. At first, Wall Street loved them, then it started to trickle down. It’s like rebooting the BlackBerry lifecycle all over again. That would be a great story.