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With the Z10 BlackBerry (don't call me RIM) has a smartphone that stands up to the leaders of the pack - Samsung's Galaxy SIII, Apple's iPhone 5 and, for good measure, Nokia's Lumia 920. BlackBerry now finally has a capable touch-centric device that has been missing from its arsenal since, well, forever. But what does this mean for the future of the company? Is BlackBerry now in position to reclaim some of its lost share (see figure) or at least stem the tide? Put another way, does the market need a strong third option and, if yes, will it be BlackBerry or Windows?
One the flipside, there are some notable misses:
The other big announcement from BlackBerry (besides the name 'change') is the launch of BES 10. This is big news for the enterprise. Finally BB has an integrated console to manage BB10, legacy BB and other platforms. Prior to the release of BES 10, enterprises had to use two separate platforms: one to manage PlayBook tablets and iOS and Android devices and one for BB phones. No integrated console existed to provide enterprise managers a single purview. This fragmentation is addressed with BES 10. Additional features include support for secure access to work email, content and secure connectivity to behind the firewall apps - including FIPS 140-2 compliance. In addition, BlackBerry World for Work, a new enterprise app storefront for BB10 smartphones (unclear about support for alternate platforms) and a variety of management controls.
This is clearly a step in the right direction for BlackBerry. However, this is just the beginning of the road for the new BlackBerry with significant hurdles to overcome to regain their customers and market's trust. Moving forward, some of the most critical requirements will include:
1. Sustainable development. BlackBerry does not have the best track record here. While it is barely out of the gate with the new BB10 devices, the company will need to create confidence in the ability to support a life cycle and upgrade schedule that maps to customer requirements. BB10 was a major upgrade and BB needed to get it right. However, missing upgrades by several quarters is not sustainable.
2. Enterprise and government refocus. Clearly consumerization is driving a new dynamic in the market. However, in the process of marketing more to the consumer, BB has all but alienated its core enterprise segments. Account attrition - especially in strong BB segments such as public sector and finance - has been considerable. BB needs to recommit to these customers and appears to be doing so with strong pre launch outreach with the BB10 devices and BES 10. There are some potentially interesting services - especially around mission critical communication integration in the wake of recent public safety developments - that BB can lead.
3. Application development. The answer here may be porting Android applications to run on BB10. Whatever it is, commitment for native application development - both enterprise and consumer is paramount. In addition, we would like to see more leadership on HTML5 coming from BB.