Well, the wait is officially over! The release of the BlackBerry is here. The iPhone and Samsung hype might finally be subsiding as the “BB10” emerges with new features in Research in Motion’s (RIM) attempts to recapture its share of the smartphone market. Although BlackBerry has maintained a strong presence in countries such as Indonesia, Nigeria, South Africa, Mexico and some of South America, the company’s market share declined from 41% in early 2011 to 27% by the fall of 2012, while both Apple and Samsung’s market share increased. The success of the release of the BlackBerry 10 is crucial to RIM’s future existence.
RIM recognizes that its primary customers are highly regulated industries such as government and finance, which have struggled with mobile security issues. In the past, Blackberry’s two main competitive advantages were dominating the enterprise market and the physical QWERTY keyboard. Now with the BlackBerry Enterprise Server, the company has a new edge: Bring Your Own Device (BYOD)-friendly operating system, which contains the ability for IT departments to control company information on employee personal devices.
One of the most interesting features of the BlackBerry Enterprise Server (BES) is the Blackberry Balance, which the company hopes will win over IT corporate managers. This allows for a company to implement a BYOD policy without the issue of mixing business and personal information. BlackBerry Balance allows IT departments to have a mobile asset management plan without affecting the personal contents of the device, and without allowing potentially sensitive work information to be accidentally leaked. Balance is activated when a device is enrolled into BES, automatically creating a “work” domain on the device. Along with protecting company data on the phone and allowing policies to be applied to a handset without affecting a users’ personal information, Balance also manages the way in which apps can access data and even specific apps that can be installed on the “work” side of the handset. As far as mobile asset management goes, if the phone is lost, company data can be properly erased separately from personal information. After all, secure data management and destruction is one of the main appeals of the new operating system.
Employees who participate in BYOD programs are bringing their desired personal device, most commonly iPhones and Androids, in lieu of accepting the phones given out by the IT department. The new BlackBerry has big plans to go head to head with both Apple iTunes and Google’s Android technology. As with any competing smartphone on the market, apps make up a huge part. The BlackBerry 10 has set out on an app round up and has released at least 70,000 apps during their launch this morning. The new and improved BlackBerry App World will contain features such as an extensive catalog of of music and video. To compete directly with Apple iTunes, RIM will release the most up to date videos, music, TV shows and movies and will make it easy for people to access what they want. The new BlackBerry model has attempted to outshine Google’s Android and the Apple iPhone with faster browsers, newer features, smarter cameras and a larger app library. Other notable features of the new BlackBerry 10 include the BlackBerry hub for optimal organization of email, messages and social status updates, while the “flow” is designed for easier navigation and multi-tasking between apps.
With the release of the BB10 with BES, RIM plans to retire its standalone mobile device management product and brand, Mobile Fusion, which will functionally be absorbed into the BES and available to its users. Mobile Fusion currently allows for additional support to devices including iOS and Android.
From an environmental point of view on the release of the BlackBerry, it is hard to say if the company has changed its tune. In 2011, RIM came in last in a Greenpeace survey of eco-friendly firms. Recently, RIM has been trying to move toward eco-friendly packaging for all of its BlackBerry products with 55% smaller, 41% lighter and fully recyclable boxes. However, due to the fact the main focus of the BlackBerry and its operating system has been BYOD and data security, there has been little to no talk about the “green” qualities of the new smartphone. Who’s to say the design of this phone is able to be disassembled and optimally recycled in the future.
Future BlackBerry news is predicted to read either success or failure. However, the new BlackBerry 10 should not be overlooked by companies wanting to or have already implemented a BYOD policy for its employees.