The day after BlackBerry

What happens after the Waterloo, Ontario-based mobile device company ceases to exist?
Written by Jason Perlow, Senior Contributing Writer

I resolved myself not to contribute to the armchair quarterbacking over what will happen to BlackBerry, now that we know that the company's demise is almost a virtual certainty. I wrote quite a number of articles about it in 2011 and 2012, so I really see no need to re-hash the same points over and over again.

What I am much more interested in is what will happen to the mobile industry as a whole when Waterloo's carrier relationships are terminated, when all of the technology and intellectual property is ultimately liquidated, and the company becomes a memory.

More specifically, I want to know what exactly is going to fill the void.

There are two key areas that BlackBerry excelled in, and that was in secure enterprise messaging and, to a certain extent, mobile device management.

Regardless of where BES and the BlackBerry NOCs end up — if they even end up anywhere — there will have to be a product or a service that fills that void. And in the mobile world, services mean everything.

Despite the BYOD effect that is occurring with iPhones, I honestly don't think Apple wants to be in the secure corporate messaging business, and Google has no real interest in furthering Microsoft's messaging infrastructure within large corporations as it is competing against Office 365/Exchange aggressively with Google Apps for Business and Gmail, regardless of the eventual outcome of the ongoing litigation on FRAND related to Microsoft's ActiveSync patents.

It's also unlikely that Google will end up owning BES and the NOCs.

So that leaves us with two large players — Samsung and Microsoft.

I'm going to refrain about making forward-looking statements about what Microsoft may do, for obvious reasons.

But it is worth pointing out the obvious. Exchange messaging, Lync, and ActiveSync are quite cozy on Windows Phone and Windows RT, and those platforms are native to Windows Intune, so you can come up with your own informed conclusions as to where that all comes into play in the enterprise post-BlackBerry.

I believe that with Samsung increasingly distancing itself away from Google in terms of its own Android implementation, its continuing work on the Tizen OS, and with an increasing desire to be more attractive to business customers (such as with its more recent investments in security and MDM technology), it will attempt to fill a good part of that void itself.

I once thought that the possibility of BES and the BlackBerry NOCs falling into Samsung's hands was unlikely, but I could see them perhaps sharing those assets as part of a group purchase with other interested parties when the final divestitures of BlackBerry occurs.

Samsung also continues to make Windows Phones, so certainly having the ability to do secure messaging on three Mobile OS platforms if you count Tizen has some actual potential.

There's also Lenovo. Lenovo means business, just as much as Samsung does, and we know it has serious mobile ambitions. However, what Mobile OS it ends up using for its flagship business smartphone and tablet platform outside of China is anyone's guess.

My gut tells me that it won't be Android when it enters the North American and European markets, because I don't see Lenovo being just another Android manufacturer only to get in a battle with well-established Samsung for commodity Android share.

It'll want unique value add and a business focus.

I also think that Lenovo will have some difficulty acquiring BlackBerry in whole or in part, because QNX is a carrier-grade RTOS, and neither the Canadian nor the US governments will want that falling into the hands of a Chinese company. QNX will probably have to be sold to a non-mobile industry player for vertical market use, which is to say it is likely it will return to where it was before BlackBerry bought it.

The same can be said for BES and the BlackBerry NOCs, which will have too many data encryption export and data governance issues to allow a Chinese firm to posses those assets. But I can certainly see Lenovo making a number of investments in MDM and a few other areas that will at least make its products attractive for business in the domestic market.

Who do you think will fill the void the Day after BlackBerry? Talk back and let me know.

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