RIM preps enterprise roadshow, chafes at iPad Gartner prediction

RIM preps enterprise roadshow, chafes at iPad Gartner prediction

Summary: RIM plans to woo CIOs to keep its enterprise base as it battles Apple encroachment and pitches its mobile device management tools.


ORLANDO---Research in Motion is moving to protect its base with a tour of enterprises to sell corporations on BlackBerry 10 as well as its mobile device management chops.


Given that a tour is underway---RIM has a few sessions at Gartner Symposium here to court CIOs---the company didn't need to be kicked around. But RIM did take a few shots on Monday. First, Gartner research chief Peter Sondergaard said that in two years there will be more Apple iPad devices than BlackBerries in corporations. Then, the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency (ICE) said in a solicitation document that it is choosing the iPhone over RIM's BlackBerry.

I caught up with Jeff Holleran, senior director, enterprise product management, and Vivek Bharwaj, head of RIM's software portfolio, to talk shop and the company's prospects.

First, Bharwaj said that Sondergaard's take on the iPad overtaking the BlackBerry needs to consider a bit more nuance. First, Bharwaj didn't see Gartner's assumptions, but the larger point is RIM isn't just a hardware vendor. It has multiple points of presence in corporations. In other words, devices don't tell the tale.


That non-answer has some truth to it. RIM's booth at the Gartner CIO powwow garnered interest even though the company had nothing to show. The crowd wasn't on the same level as the CIOs flooding Windows 8 demos or Splunk, but considering RIM is in a holding pattern the interest was solid. 

My talk with Holleran and Bharwaj was pretty wide ranging. Here are the highlights.

  • Neither executive was going to talk about when BlackBerry 10 devices were going to land in the first quarter exactly, but both were pleased with the early reaction from telecom providers, developers and customers.
  • Given that Google recently killed Motorola's Webtop approach---a concept I liked but thought was too early---I asked Bharwaj whether RIM would try something similar. After all, BlackBerry 10 is supposed to be a computing platform and in the enterprise a smartphone as PC processor could work. He said:

The model itself is a viable one, but the hardware (laptop shell) wasn't affordable. There also needs to be an understanding of what people need in a mobile office. It's not the same thing as what's on the smartphone. QNX has that maturity to be on par with a desktop. From QNX we could build out a mobile office.

  • Bharwaj painted a scenario where a BlackBerry could work in an hoteling arrangement in corporate offices and would plug into a dock and keyboard. Note that Bharwaj was thinking aloud. First, RIM needs the BlackBerry 10 rollout to be a success.
  • On mobile device management (MDM) software, Holleran said RIM is converting pilots into production systems. BlackBerry Enterprise Server has 200,000 touch points. The majority of MDM has been BlackBerry devices, but RIM is now managing iOS and Android units too. Holleran added that BlackBerry 10's ability to use work and personal personas should satisfy workers and IT. Holleran, however, noted that there was some mixed emotions about having to manage other devices. He said:

The last thing we wanted to do was manage other devices, but customers asked for it. We know it's a heterogeneous world in the enterprise.

  • Competing in MDM. Holleran said that there's a lot of fear uncertainty and doubt campaigns in the MDM space. For instance, customers are asking whether RIM will survive largely because an MDM startup has raised funding and is talking smack.
  • The UI learning curve. BlackBerry 10's features are promising, but I asked Bharwaj about the learning curve. There are gestures that will be new and people are used to clicking icons all the time. "There's a lot of fatigue around clicking buttons," said Bharwaj. He added that the ability to do things with one hand on the BlackBerry will be a selling point. However, RIM, like Microsoft and Windows Phone, will have to retrain consumers. "For the existing base the learning curve won't be steep," said Bharwaj.
  • Does hardware matter? I asked Bharwaj whether RIM had to do anything special with the hardware design to manufacture some kind of cool factor. He said he was confident that RIM's distinctive designs will continue to impress.
  • RIM's churn factors. Bharwaj said RIM customers have left because of the supply of applications, the browser and touch interface. "We would not launch BlackBerry 10 if we didn't have those three boxes checked off," he said.

Topics: Mobility, Enterprise Software, BlackBerry

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  • RIM: You're missing the point

    Your problem isn't a technological one any more. It's you. It's your brand.

    Because of your lethargy, because of your bi-polar executive management, because of your myopic vision, "RIM," and, "Blackberry," have become synonymous with, "50-year old fat guy in a wrinkled suit dragging an IBM (yes, IBM) laptop through the airport... strapped to his wheeled luggage."

    Who wants to be seen with that?

    I've developed for your platform...s. Do you honestly think developer time is best spent waiting for a computer with many times the processing power of your devices... to take as much time to boot an emulator as your physical devices? Are emulators still available? Are you trying to make the development experience exactly like that of the Android?

    At this point, the damage is done. You can spray pretty floral scents all you want, it's not helping. Flush already and get on with it. It is time to re-brand (if you seriously want to stay in business). Ditch RIM, ditch Blackberry, ditch the cancer in your organization that goes with that and start anew.

    Or don't. The result will be the same.
    • Source

  • ThatOtherApple: Clueless

    You've been away way to long. BB10 is a brand new platform. It has nothing to do with the old, in fact its a complete departure.

    What type of developer are you?

    Web Developers

    Web developers will feel right at home with WebWorks. WebWorks is a runtime which bundles HTML, JavaScript and (eventually) native plug-ins into a native BB10 application. Along with the provided WebWorks JavaScript API, you are free to use most of the web technologies you are already comfortable with.

    Adventurous Web Developers

    If you don’t want to feel too comfortable in your new development environment, consider jumping right into Cascades. While the initial learning curve may be steeper for those without C++ experience, the payoff will be big when you realize how transferable your JavaScript skills are. Cascade applications can be created completed in QML (a declarative language used to construct UI) and JavaScript, with minimal C++ code to glue it all together.

    Flash Developers

    Like the PlayBook, BB10 can run Adobe AIR applications. ActionScript developers can use the same Adobe tools they are comfortable with and publish their AIR apps right onto a BB10 device with minimal effort.

    Java Developers

    Java Developers may find themselves torn when migrating to BB10. The only supported path to write in Java is by taking advantage of the Android Runtime bundled into BB10. However, this path should only be considered for Java developers with extensive Android experience as it has some big drawkbacks. The biggest one being that the Android Runtime is limited to to apps built on the Android 2.3 SDK. The Android 2.3 SDK was built first and formost for Android phones, and is now almost two years old.

    In my opinion, the best path forward for a Java developer wanting to get started on BB10 is to jump headfirst into Cascades development. As with the others who aren’t as comfortable with C++ there will be a learning curve, but you’ll find a lot to like about Qt (which Cascades is built ontop of) and QML.

    C/C++ Developers

    Anyone who’s already familiar with C or C++ should definitely jump into native development on BB10. Those comfortable with low-level C may even want to stick with it by using the NDK, especially for Game Development. Otherwise, Cascades will development will be very easy to get into, and those with Qt experience will have an even easier time. The biggest task for developers familiar with C or C++ will be exploring all the components provided by the Cascades UI library.

    Porting Tips

    For those lucky (or unlucky) enough to have a pre-existing code base they intend to port, the development path will depend on the original platform. Below are some additional tips for developers looking to bring over various types of projects to BB10.

    WebWorks for PlayBook for BB7 (and below)

    WebWorks applications built for BB7 or Playbook OS will require minimal changes to prepare for BB10. The most important change is that neither Java and ActionScript plug-ins are supported on BB10, and will need to be rewritten as (C/C++) native plug-ins.

    WebOS Applications

    Developers with exisiting WebOS projects can migrate them successfully to WebWorks with some reworking. WebWorks uses pure HTML and CSS to style its UI and doesn’t rely on any native elements, to reproduce the look and feel of a Cascades application in WebWorks check out the BBUI project: https://github.com/blackberry/bbUI.js/ Most functionality proviced by Enyo is provided by the blackberry object in JavaScript. 3rd party libraries, like jQuery, are recommended to fill in the missing pieces, more informaiton can be found here: https://developer.blackberry.com/html5/documentation/ww_developing/porting_webos_apps_1952251_11.html

    OpenGL-based Games

    With BB10, the NDK is provided to write code completely in low level C. This, with BB10′s support for all POSIX compliant libraries, makes BB10 a great target for porting OpenGL games written in C or C++.

    C Libraries

    Similarly C libraries should be very easy to get compiling on BB10.

    Qt Applications

    Qt developers will find that QtQuick has been replaced. Existing applications will have to be adapted to the components and architecture of Cascades UI. Currently drawing shapes is not supported and only Cascades UI elements can be drawn onto the screen. Luckily Cascades supports a component called ForeignView, which can be used to drop down to the use of OpenGL drawing operations.

    Android Applications

    For those that do have existing Android 2.3 applications targeting the Android Runtime should take a minimal amount of effort. This is provided that your application isn’t heavily reliant on the Google Play store, or a few sensor APIs which the Android Runtime for BB10 does not support. See this API support guide for more information: https://developer.blackberry.com/android/apisupport/ .

    Everything Else

    Finally, many multi-platform development toolsets like Unity and Appcelerator have begun to announce support for BB10. With these plethora of options avaliable to developers, BB10 is promising to be one of the most flexible and developer friendly mobile platforms to develop for.

    Source: Getting started with BB10 (Getting Started with BB10 Development)
  • Confused?

    Who is Rimm?
  • Garnter - Useless

    No one should take any prediction Gartner makes as more than wasted time to read. They are wrong so often, it should be common one-line fodder for the late night circuit – if they knew about geek jokes.

    For ZDNet to quote Gartner just reduces the already low amount of respect that I have for the journalistic skills at that publication.
    • Pot, meet kettle

      You need to take a look at your own track record, there, buddy.
  • They Should Be Looking To Out-Android Android

    Look at what Google did: start with a versatile, powerful, open-source Linux kernel, and build a versatile, powerful, open-source mobile platform stack on top of it. And then offer it to all comers.

    That is what RIM should be doing. The time for centralized, strictly-controlled stacks like Apple's (which Microsoft keeps unsuccessfully trying to emulate) is past.
    • They Should Be Looking To Out-Android Android

      Right on the money, Ido17. Microsoft should do the same thing with Windows 9, i.e. build a brilliantly simple, modern UI on a solid Linux kernel. Stop wasting valuable R&D time, effort and money on building crappy operating systems that no-one wants any more and put it into user shells and business apps. I've been telling them this since Taligent then NeXTSTEP, but the "not-invented-here" culture is endemic in these companies.
  • iFumble and Dropberry

    I work in an organization that uses both iPads and Blackberry's, as well as a lot of laptops (PC and Mac). And from what I see, no one is very happy with either the iPad or the Blackberry. Blackberry users seem to get their emails and meeting notices OK ... if they manage to stay connected. And iPad users ... well, they fiddle with the cover/stand a lot, but never actually manage to pull up any of the data they're looking for while attending meetings. "I'll get that for you later," seems the standard result of looking for information with the iPad.

    I think people like the idea of these tools, but real world success with either seems to be less than straightforward. Laptop users get predictable results, but don't enjoy lugging around a heavy book-sized object to every meeting.

    Keep working at it, world. You're not there yet.