Blackberry’s Canadian manufacturer RIM hopes its BB10 smartphone can carve out a profitable chunk of the mobile market, but it will be a hard fight in one of technology’s toughest battlegrounds.
Currently Blackberry’s user base, particularly in the UK, is dominated by two groups: youngsters who like the cheap contracts and BBM, the free intra-Blackberry messaging service; and executives who like the email-friendly keyboard and its historically useful email management software, writes Technology Producer Geoff White.
Those two groups have something in common: neither of them actually wants a Blackberry. The teens would far rather have an iPhone but mum and/or dad won’t pay the high contract fees. The executive would rather have a cutting edge smartphone or tablet but his or her company is locked into a deal with Blackberry to supply its mobile devices.
So if the BB10, set to be unveiled on Wednesday, is going to succeed it needs to be not just a phone that consumers and business folk want, but THE phone. A tall order when you consider the competition from smartphone behemoths Apple and Samsung and the record profits that both have recently posted.
The BB10 does seem to have one potentially magic ingredient though. Pre-release versions have apparently included a function that allows users to toggle between “work” and “non-work” modes – keeping enterprise apps and data separate from Angry Birds and kitten pictures.
This may seem small beer, but it promises to fix a headache which for the last few years has been plaguing IT managers in every single large corporation; Bring Your Own Device, or BYOD, in other words the phenomena of employees wanting to use their own smartphone, tablet or computer at work.
Not only does it present massive comparability issues, it is also a major security problem because the company is exposed to viruses and other nasties picked up by the employee’s personal use.
If Blackberry has genuinely solved this issue with a simple swipe from “work” to “non-work” modes, it will be a major selling point to IT procurement chiefs. It also gives a clear indication of RIM’s direction of travel: back to the enterprise space which perhaps the firm sees as its natural home.