Will governments around the world give BlackBerry the time it needs to re-invent itself for the new smartphone world?
This week, we heard from The Australian that IBM is going to stop activating new BlackBerry services for its fleet, in what must be a terrible blow to the smartphone maker. BlackBerry has traditionally aimed its devices at the kind of business culture that IBM exudes.
IBM seemed to say that the bring-your-own-device trend among employees was behind the move, as well as a desire to use Lotus Notes Traveller on phones. Its statement on the matter to ZDNet Australia read:
IBM continues to upgrade collaboration technologies, and employees are able to use a range of mobile devices, including smartphones and tablets, which are supported by Lotus Notes Traveler — an IBM solution for real-time access to email and calendar.
I had a bit of a chuckle at that, thinking about the irony of ditching a shrinking company in order to operate shrinking Lotus. However, jokes aside, it seems that while the consumerisation of IT is hitting hard, BlackBerry's hard-nosed business image is biting it in the backside.
After all, if you could bring any phone into work, would you choose a BlackBerry?
Of course, there are always going to be some businesses that will want what BlackBerry uniquely has to offer. For example, the Australian Government is still evaluating Apple's iOS for use with its Wi-Fi networks, despite having started the evaluation early last year.
There has been progress. In July last year, the Defence Signals Directorate (DSD) released a guide for government iOS users and administrators that sets down a raft of measures to shore up the security of the Apple platform, while saying that iDevices like iPhone and iPad still weren't suitable for handling information classified above "In-Confidence". Meanwhile, BlackBerry remains the device of choice for government workers.
As the DSD pointed out to ZDNet Australia today, "evaluations take time to complete to ensure the integrity of the product meets the specific security requirements of the Australian Government".
This would be the same for almost any government, I would think. So, while BlackBerry is losing ground with consumerised enterprise, government will be a linchpin, and is likely to remain so for a reasonable time. Will this give BlackBerry enough breathing space to rise like the phoenix from the ashes? Only time will tell.