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It’s no secret that BlackBerry is working to maintain its relevance in enterprise mobility. CEO John Chen emphasized just last month at Mobile World Congress that the firm had engineered a new strategy to restore customer’s confidence in BlackBerry. Both in Barcelona and at a meeting with analysts in January, Chen has stressed the relationship with enterprise as central to the company’s strategy and success. Potential revenue enhancing opportunities have emerged, such as the news that the company intends to support the Windows Phone platform with its upcoming BES 12 release (BBM support for the Windows Phone platform was also disclosed), and the announcement that Ford will be using the company’s QNX platform for its next-generation Sync system—however, while these initiatives have potential, we see the company’s reluctance to abandon its hardware orientation as hurting its long term prospects. While there remains a window of opportunity to maintain relevance with a device centric strategy (The firm made a wise choice by partnering with Foxconn to defray the downside of its unsustainable (and unprofitable) manufacturing operations), we believe the upcoming Z3 (low end consumer device) and Q20 (a QWERTY keyboard sporting enterprise-grade smartphone) are the company’s last chance. This is primarily due to the fact that there is a marked loss in mindshare with enterprise customers—according a recent VDC survey, the lack of confidence is quite stark.
Forecast is Gloomy
Our survey showed that BlackBerry’s support among larger enterprises (organizations with greater than $500M in annual revenues) has continued to has lose ground to both the Apple and Android platforms. BlackBerry also lagged significantly and was the least-supported OS, both among BYOD and enterprise-issued devices according to our study. When asked point-blank about their likelihood in investing in BlackBerry, the same companies showed a marked level of ambivalence:
While Apple and Android are the dominant mobile platforms in the enterprise, we believe that there is room for a third ecosystem—particularly one with enterprise-grade capabilities.
Need for Speed
While the new Z3 and Q20 devices are slated for later this year, BlackBerry needs to move quickly as new devices such as Samsung’s S5 (April) and Apple’s iPhone 6 (September?) are fast approaching. Both are high-end devices and feature notable enterprise-grade enhancements that will be difficult to match. In the meantime, the company should continue to enhance its focus on its BYOD management solutions—else, the road ahead will continue to be long and increasingy uphill.
(Research and written contribution by Kathryn Nassberg)