BlackBerry regrets belated cross-platform support

BlackBerry regrets belated cross-platform support

Summary: BlackBerry wishes it realised sooner that competitor operating systems such as Google's Android and Apple's iOS presented opportunities, not threats, according to global CEO Thorsten Heins.


BlackBerry probably has a fair few regrets, but turning back the clock to offer support for competitor devices through its enterprise mobile device management (MDM) platform would be at the top of its list, according to the company's global CEO Thorsten Heins.

The mobile vendor's BlackBerry Enterprise Server has ensconced itself in the back end of many organisations, offering IT administrators a secure and easy way to manage fleets of corporate BlackBerry devices. It wasn't until 2011 that the company decided to support non-BlackBerry devices through the Enterprise Server.

"I think what we would have done differently is probably engage earlier with the enterprise on cross platform — build a mobile device management solution that would actually intercept what is out there today," Heins said at the Australian BlackBerry 10 launch in Sydney yesterday. "It took us a bit of time to really understand that it's not a threat, but an opportunity."

He lamented the company's delayed action in supporting cross-platform devices, as that would have allowed BlackBerry to get in early for the bring-your-own-device (BYOD) party.

But the vendor has been trying to make up for lost time.

BlackBerry announced Secure Work Space for iOS and Android last week, giving devices running on those two non-BlackBerry OSes the ability to create a separate space on their personal mobile devices for work purposes only. This worked in a similar fashion to BlackBerry Balance on the new BlackBerry 10 operating system.

The Secure Workspace is provisioned through the BlackBerry Enterprise Service 10 (BES 10) MDM offering.

Considering BlackBerry prides itself on offering the most secure devices for enterprise users, it would seem that the vendor shot itself in the foot by increasing the level of security for competitor products. But Heins claimed that his company's handsets will still be the kings of enterprise security, and BES 10 just makes it easier for companies to manage a broad ecosystem of devices.

"I don't think [our competitors] will ever have security as good as BlackBerry, because ours sit in the OS," he said. "Don't take this as arrogance, but [our security] sits in the architecture of the device — that's why we did it."

By becoming a leader in mobile device security and offering up a cost-efficient and user-friendly MDM offering in the form of BES 10, BlackBerry will be able to outdo its competitors, according to Heins.

While there is still doubt in the industry about BlackBerry's future, Heins is happy with the response to BlackBerry 10 since its global launch in January.

"We have strong carrier partners out there, because guess what? They don't want a duopoly [with iOS and Android]," he said. "That is what they currently see. They are begging for choice, and here we are."

The company's first device running on BlackBerry 10 is the Z10, and it will be available through Optus from March 25. Telstra will be stocking the Z10 from March 26. The device is also available through major retailers, including JB Hi Fi and Harvey Norman.

Topics: BlackBerry, Mobile OS, Mobility, Australia

Spandas Lui

About Spandas Lui

Spandas forayed into tech journalism in 2009 as a fresh university graduate spurring her passion for all things tech. Based in Australia, Spandas covers enterprise and business IT.

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  • Success Will Depend

    I think on how soon it can be tested and rolled out and if it is cost competitive and BB is onboard already. I am not an IT person but in talking with current BB owners and company decision makers the vast majority either intend to run their noncurrent BBs until they die and then update to another BB as they are convinced solid hardware trumps flavor of the month software.

    I have 1 client whose device has outlived 3 of my consumer level phones. He like so many others in business, including myself, use the phone as a phone, check emails and to a lesser degree texting. Social networking, web browsing, etc. Do not seem to be a priority. While some who travel quite a bit download .mp3, most seem to want an FM radio. I carry a separate small radio/.mp3/flash drive just for the radio.

    I was surprised few who used other phone OSs and travel do not find the current GPS technology in phones good enough to use. I admit I can not it to reliably work on my newish Andriod (4.2.1) phone nor much better on my Playbook. 1 client who has a trucking company tried Android phones for GPS for his drivers but it failed. He currently has a test running with a Z10 and a WP8 phone and to date the driver testing them says the Z10 is better but not as good as the dedicated GPS. I have agreed to loan him my Playbook to test as 1complaint as to the phones is the screen size is just too small for practical use. Maybe the phalet (or whatever they are called this week) will be the answer. The test driver does like all the current OSs as he can stream movies and audio. He has a monitor in the cab he plugs the phones in to view video during rest periods. The company owner makes a case for a tablet sized phone or a tablet with a phone built in for the transport and taxi industry if it can incorporate a good GPS.

    OTOH, having spent time in the hospital environment there is currently hodgepod of hardware. In use by different staff levels with little or no intercommunicability. Drs are just trying to use tablets while carrying phones and in some cases phones with radios built in while nurses carry radios and separate personal phones, etc. A couple of Drs have experimented at accessing the tablet to hospital records but this apparently is not sanctioned. I can see a phalet with radio that ties back to the hospital systems to access patient records, scans, communications between hospital and staff replacing all these units.

    Maybe rather than trying to market to specialized markets in the future.rather than 1 size fits all. Possibly BB can fill the specialty market profitably rather than competing in the mass market. Because of patient information security, their security history can be a benefit. The health industry is expanding and really virgin territory as it seems to be as behind as most government agencies I've experience with. Local hospitals are still running DOS programs on Windows 2000 and writing to XP but there now seems to be some discussion that they should drop the XP update and write to Win 8 as the touch screen maybe a natural for the environment if they can somehow get the touchscreen to react when the input person is wearing gloves. That with a separate virtual keyboard to replace the current separate keyboard, a horrible item for germ procreation would make it come together.
  • Good lesson to learn

    "I think what we would have done differently is probably engage earlier with the enterprise on cross platform — build a mobile device management solution that would actually intercept what is out there today," Heins said at the Australian BlackBerry 10 launch in Sydney yesterday. "It took us a bit of time to really understand that it's not a threat, but an opportunity."

    On the whole, it's a lot better for just about everybody if vendors focus on serving the customer the best they can, rather than trying to knock each other out so they can dictate to customers instead.
    John L. Ries
  • Lame article

    Backwards looking analysis of irrelevant subject matter....slow news day I guess, needed some filler material?

    Hard to produce cross platform mdm before you even release bb10 don't you think? Lame article