Enterprise Mobility & Connected Devices Blog

The Gloves are off in the Fight to be the Next Blackberry

by Kathryn Nassberg | 12/18/2013

The battle lines for enterprise mobility are being drawn as a variety of solution providers are jockeying for position to fill the void left by Blackberry. This shift is taking place within the context of the increasing use of consumer devices within an enterprise setting. Recent research from VDC shows that while over 80% of all companies surveyed allow employees to use personal devices, only 36% had a formal BYOD policy in place. The distribution between firms that currently employ mobile device management solutions and those who do not but are evaluating options is nearly identical, with respective percentages of 76% and 36%. The findings point to a widespread adoption of consumer-oriented devices within enterprises and a more methodical approach to device management and information security. OEMs have responded by looking to accommodate demand for secure enterprise mobility services by offering third-party supported MDM solutions and consumer devices that offer enterprise support. According to smartphone shipment forecasts, devices with enterprise support represent the fastest-growing sector by a considerable margin. Blackberry’s downfall from its position as the premier enterprise-oriented mobile device has attracted competition for next generation enterprise mobile solutions from all corners to capture market share as an ever-increasing number of companies look to formalize their BYOD policy. The question that remains is how the market and channels will adapt, especially as the competition has grown to include not just third-party solutions providers, but OEMs and even carriers.

As the lines between enterprise and consumer-oriented devices continue to blur, the need for enterprise capabilities on consumer devices is growing, as is the need for effective device management. Who stands to gain the most? There has been a definite shift among device OEMs to accommodate the rising surge of BYOD to find the right balance between consumer and enterprise. Blackberry, which has an extensive enterprise-focused history, continues to struggle to gain market share with its more consumer-oriented devices. At the other extreme, Apple, which for most of its history has largely eschewed enterprise-focused products, has recently shifted to adapt its devices to integrate with third-party MDM solutions. Even iOS 7 boasts enterprise-friendly features, such as per app VPN and App Store license management in addition to MDM configuration options. However, given how closed their products have traditionally been, the question remains how successful opening up the Forbidden City of consumer devices to third-party enterprise solutions will prove. Another contender to fill the Blackberry void is Samsung; its KNOX solution provides a containerized approach to MDM by separating the business from personal.  . Although slow to release,  KNOX represents the most prominent example of an enterprise-focused strategy from a handset OEM.

Meanwhile, carriers like AT&T and Verizon have also entered the fray, offering management solutions that are touted as a comprehensive approach to mobile security, as well as to device and application management. In contrast to OEMs, carriers will be able to tout their scalability and experience in handling multiple platforms. All this throws into relief the challenge third-party MDM providers will likely face as their primacy and first-mover advantage is challenged on all sides. The era of panicked adoptions of MDM solutions is coming to a close as enterprises are seeking a more tailored and methodical approach towards enterprise mobility strategy. VDC anticipates that the market will change to reflect the maturation of demand through consolidation and a broader range of solutions to incorporate not just devices, but application support as well. Right now, the market is up for grabs, but not for long. Mobile device management is becoming commoditized, and the solutions providers that are able to offer application management will come out on top in VDC’s opinion.