There is more work that is ahead for BlackBerry, but the good news for enterprise IT is better mobile device support. Not only is BlackBerry consolidating older (pre -BB10) support on BlackBerry Enterprise Server (“BES”), it recognizes there is still demand for older devices in the developing world. The net result is BES 10 will be a better fit for organizations running BlackBerry and other BYOD devices.
PlayBook gets update
PlayBook, the tablet that is end of life, received its very last update (OS 184.108.40.2067). The very last update improves Adobe Air and Flash player. Enterprises should note that that Playbook does not provide bridge email when paired with a BB10.
Jakarta Z3 set to ship
Jakarta is a 5-inch smartphone targeting the emerging markets. It will be under $300. Chances are good that the inexpensive device will be in strong demand. Unfortunately, the device is not set to come to North America. If demand is exceptionally strong in other markets, BlackBerry might want to think of developing a scaled-down version of the premium Z30 device. The Z30 boasts a long battery life, solid build, and a 5-inch screen.
The competition for mid-tier smartphones with respectable specifications will only intensify. Google started this trend by releasing the Nexus 4, but it’s not known if momentum for the Nexus 5 is holding. Conversely, Nokia just announced a Lumia 930, which is the successor to the 920. The 930 is a 5-inch device that runs Windows Phone (“WP”) 8.1. The display is 1080p, runs on a Snapdragon 800 processor (2.2Ghz), and has a 20 megapixel PureView camera. This model will cost USD $599. At the lower-end, the Lumia 630 and 635 will have a 4.5-inch screen, but will only cost USD $189.
If Nokia does not make the device carrier exclusive in North America, the Lumia 630 and 635 could hurt BlackBerry’s chances of building any user base for BB10 in the consumer space.
BES 12 announced
At Mobile World Congress, BlackBerry said BES 12 would support BB10 devices, Android and iOS, WP8, and BES 5. Currently, enterprises need a separate BES 5 instance to manage BBOS7 devices (and below). Said differently, IT will not need to have a separate BES server to support non-BB10 devices. BlackBerry is promoting EZ Pass to help IT departments migrate to the new BES solution. The firm said its landing site already has over a hundred thousand hits on its website.
BES 12 will have on-premise cloud on a hybrid solution. BES 10 has an install base of around 33,000 globally.
Q20 renamed “Classic”
Q20, the successor to Q10, is now called “Classic.” The firm plans to release the Classic at around the same time as BES 12.
Loyal fans may now buy unlocked BB10 devices at ShopBlackBerry.com. Device prices for Canadians are not competitive compared to Wind Mobile for most devices (Z30, Q10), but the low price for Z10 might attract buyers.
BBM could make money
BBM has 85 million monthly active users in Q4 on 113 million registrations. User growth slowed, but BlackBerry released an update for the app in the past week to support sales of BBM Stickers. Early reports suggest early sales of BBM Stickers are good.
Growth in BBM Channels is rapid. There were around 200,000 channels when CEO John Chen started, and now there are 400,000. The average user reads 11.5 posts daily.
Time will tell
Taken from an accounting viewpoint, BlackBerry’s turnaround is progressing. The company needs must do more. It needs to release comparable devices that cost less than iPhones and Androids. Marketing spend needs to increase, to promote the merits of using a BlackBerry. Chen expects BES 12 and the Classic will be ready in November 2014 at the latest. August or September would be more ideal. If not, releasing Jakarta-like devices at that time would bring momentum from back to school sales.
End-of-support-devices: Time to Upgrade is Now
Sadly, it’s too often the case that something needs to ‘go boom’ with networking devices for organizations to realize there’s even a problem. But there are simple steps IT leaders before disaster strikes.