It’s been suggested this week that RIMs final nail in its coffin is now imminent. There has been much conjecture online as to the validity of RIM’s claims that the new Blackberry Enterprise Server(BES10) will support legacy BlackBerry(bb7) devices. Some reports say that it will, while others claim that infrastructures that wish to maintain BES support for new and old blackberrys alike will have to maintain both the old BES5 and BES10 installations. The later reportedly being a costly and inefficient methodology that will surely further turn companies away from RIM.
This latest development, true or otherwise follows an already long list of factors impacting RIMs global market share. Continued delays in delivery of BB10, the “Bring your own device(byod) to work” trend, losses in market share to Apple, Android, and yes now Windows Mobile Phones, and Playbook foul-ups (Imagine releasing a tablet to market with no email support, certainly it isn’t true!) are just some of the examples.
Proof of how dismal it is for RIM is in the pudding: A concoction of reported million dollar losses, mass layoffs, and a steady news stream detailing restructuring initiatives to feed the enquiring minds. Throw in a lost patent lawsuit just to ensure to kick RIM while it’s down. They even saw fit to sell one of their corporate jets.
Surely if RIM doesn’t hurry up and release their BB10 phones to an already dwindling market share then take their next BES version to the limit by supporting all blackberry devices while maintaining their secured environment and push technology, all the while keeping company infrastructure costs low, its game over, right?
Today’s mobile market is saturated with different flavours of smart phones and tablets. Gone are the days of RIMs dominance in this field. The year 2002 where your mobile options were fat phones, flip phones and of course the only smart phone: the BlackBerry is long gone. If you were lucky you still had youself a really neat palm pilot. Today however there are options. Android, iPhones, Windows Phones, Blackberrys, all jockying for market share. One would be daft to think that RIM would find the glory they once had in this mobile market.
Add to this the complexity involved in switching your core software platform from one language to another. The BB7 devices operating system is written in C++. BB10 Devices make use of QNX, a complete new direction to say the least. Here at Penad we are in process of converting our flagship software from one language to another. Take it from me that this venture is an intricate, time consuming process in which the challenges are not always known.
RIMs technological shift comes at a time where the likes of Apple are focusing their efforts on increased functionality, usability and adding cool features to appeal to the market; no wonder they are gaining market share, a trend that surely has it’s limits. I still find it astonishing to hear that people are lining up at their local best buy stores hours before opening to get their hands on the latest iteration of iPhones. Hey guys, you know it’s just a smart phone, right? But I digress.
Instead lets talk about some of the things that Blackberrys are really good at.
Blackberry users insist that the little physical keyboard on the blackberry is something that the right stuff is made of. On this point, I have to agree. I myself am a former blackberry user lured to to the dark side of Android. Of all the things I miss the most in my mobile experience is the ability to write an email or text message quickly with proper spelling and punctuation.
Push email and BBM are next on the list. Who among us wouldn’t prefer having the server responsible for our emails notify our devices of waiting mail over our devices incurring data charged by constantly checking for mail in order to receive mail in a timely fashion.
Third on the list, and perhaps most important is security. No other mobile devices offer the same level of security and encryption that Blackberry does. Perhaps for the average mobile user, encrypted email is not something of importance. However for many of the companies, governments and public services, large and small that dot the globe, it is.
Why then are some of these same organizations adopting a byod attitude towards their staff? Well, it`s human nature to adopt feature and functionality, want and desire over security while driving head long into a sustained state of complacency. The longer one goes without feeling vulnerable, the more secure one feels. Add to this, there is much to be learned from past incidents that drive the security of the future. The history of technological security brings this point home as it is rich in measure, counter-measure. Technological security policy in organizations as you may know it today exist the way they do because there is a proven reason to have them. This is akin to personal safety in automobiles. The seat belt was only introduced after people lost their lives in car accidents. The guardrail installed after an unfortunate soul slid off the road and over a cliff on a rainy day. To be fair, I should point out that there are ways to secure email bound for mobile devices from server software such as Microsoft exchange, a methodology not always employed. All of us while participating in this phenomenon do so full well knowing the implications in the back of our minds and are aware of the security shortcommings.
RIM has something no other mobile manufacturer has, BES. Installed into organizations and integrated into messaging services, it provides the security we all know we should have while communicating through our corporate mobile devices, while offering push mail and a host of other features. Currently this security is only offered up to blackberry users.
RIM has indicated that the next generation BES to be released in early 2013 will make use of Blackberry Mobile Fusion to integrate IPhone and Android users into the secure fold of BES for any organization. What this means is that while the byod trend continues, RIM will supply the back-end infrastructure to provide organizations with a unified control and secure platform for all mobile devices in use by staff. In short, RIM is positioning itself to be the defacto all encompassing mobile security backbone software provider.
Of course, RIM will continue to provide the world with hand held devices, and from what I’ve seen and read concerning the upcoming BB10 devices, they are likely to dig their way back into a fair share of the market albeit never to the point of the glory days of many moons ago.
None the less, this represents a fundamental shift from mobile device provider to mobile security provider for all. I suggest that we should all start looking at RIM that way, and if I’m even remotely correct, RIM will be with us for many years to come.