BlackBerry Live preview: All about Q10 sell-through, MDM, roadmap

BlackBerry's big conference is going to be a more upbeat affair compared to a year ago, but the company needs to show it has an encore act after launching its revamped platform.

BlackBerry Live, the conference formerly known as BlackBerry World, kicks off Tuesday and it's safe to assume there will be a fair amount of BlackBerry 10 platform cheerleading, a pat on the back or two regarding the Z10 smartphone, some insight to Q10 sell-through with a heavy dose of mobile device management.


The real question will revolve around how BlackBerry intends to build on its initial BlackBerry 10 platform launch.

The conference, held in Orlando May 14 to May 16, comes a few months after the Z10 launch and more recently the Q10 debut. The Q10 is a QWERTY BlackBerry 10 phone that's supposed to appeal to the hard core BlackBerry fan.

In addition, the Q10 is reportedly going to be more of a keeper for the enterprise, which is BlackBerry's sweet spot. According to analysts, demand for the Q10 is shaping up nicely, but no one knows for sure. Verizon Wireless CEO Dan Mead said he was optimistic about BlackBerry's QWERTY play and the platform overall.

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Speaking at a Jefferies investment conference last week Mead said:

We think that there is an important  place for Blackberry, we have a lot of Blackberry customers on our network; there seems to be a hunger for the QWERTY keyboard.

Jefferies analyst Peter Misek said in a recent research note:

We conducted retail checks in the U.K. and Canada yet again, and the conclusion is clear, demand is very robust and Q10 demand is better than Z10 demand. According to our recent checks, build plans have not been cut. We are confident in our 2M+/month BB10 build plan estimate from our Asia trip a few weeks ago.

What's next? Analysts are betting on a mid-range version of the Z10 that should help BlackBerry's August quarter.

Don't underestimate the importance of BlackBerry talking hardware and software roadmaps. Just a few months ago, it was unclear whether BlackBerry would even survive. To put that notion to bed, BlackBerry has to send the message that it will stick around, keep developers happy and ultimately become a challenger to Apple iOS and Android devices.

A big part of that software roadmap is going to revolve around mobile device management. BlackBerry has to move up the mobile stack and ultimately that means managing other devices beyond its own. It's likely that BlackBerry's MDM play will be overlooked amid gadget talk, but enterprise software may be the company's best shot at keeping its footing long term.

BlackBerry has incumbency on its side in the MDM market, which is way too crowded. Should BlackBerry Live provide some insight that would indicate the company can be a MDM player the pressure on creating another hardware hit will ease.


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