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On Wednesday, October 10, RIM took the stage at MobileCon in San Diego, and CIO, Robin Beinfait, delivered the value proposition of the BlackBerry 10 Platform for the enterprise. RIM's keynote had a heavy focus on platform features that RIM believes are differentiators in the market. Through this lens, I thought RIM made a clear acknowledgement of their strategy in the mobile market. The keynote points to a market positioning of RIM emphasizing software first and hardware second; the world is BYOD; and the need for a much more robust platform that can compete with third-party device management solutions designed for iOS and Android OSes.
It's rather notable that a firm such as RIM that historically has derived most of its revenue from hardware is putting a heavy emphasis on software. The BlackBerry 10 platform will provide features that allow its mobile phones to be more competitive in an iOS and Android market, but it will require a strategic focus on software for revenues, not where its bread and butter has been.
If you want to compete in the software market, you have to support BYOD (Bring Your Own Device). Beinfait encouraged CIOs to understand the demands of BYOD on the enterprise and to embrace supporting employees while developing a comprehensive strategy to the trend versus and ad hoc approach. RIM is smart to embrace BYOD as the trend won't go away even if adoption levels are slower than reported. (Interestingly, during an analyst breakfast briefing held by AT&T at MobileCon, AT&T indicated that customer engagements do not reflect the figures reported on the BYOD trend.) However, it's also strategic positioning as BES is marginalized as BYOD adoption rates rise.
If BlackBerry 10 is going to be a viable competitor in the smartphone market, then it requires a comprehensive offering of mobile applications. In a bid to offer a robust platform, RIM is providing early access to applications developers. RIM has distributed more than 5,000 BlackBerry Dev Alpha test units to applications developers, and has opened the first global BlackBerry Tech Center at its EMEA HQ in Slough, UK. BlackBerry 10 not only needs to grab developer mindshare, but enough developers to supply a comparative application ecosystem to Android and iOS. If developers are excited about this platform and enough cool apps are developed that are superior and differentiate it from non-BlackBerry apps, it would technically give RIM a fighting chance.
Time is one of the major challenges for RIM. RIM has already indicated that the BlackBerry 10 Platform will not be released until the first quarter of 2013, which misses the holiday shopping season. Presumably based on the belief that a release without all dimensions ready to go will be more damaging than the delay. That being said, RIM is a firm that has served enterprise customers very well, and met the enterprise demands for security. Given RIM's declining market relevance, the BlackBerry 10 platform has a significant challenge to retain the enterprise customer before Android and iOS own the vast majority of the mobile operating system market.
Do you think the BlackBerry 10 Platform is competitive enough? What incentives are needed to bring developers to the BlackBerry 10?