BlackBerry is set to report quarterly results on December 20th, 2013. Everyone should expect the numbers to be very ugly.
During the quarter, the company reversed its decision to privatize, took on one billion dollars in debt, but successfully released its iconic BlackBerry Messenger (“BBM”) to other platforms.
Negative coverage on BlackBerry’s future will spin out following result. There are a number of things enterprises should concentrate on as they make decisions on implementing a BlackBerry enterprise solution.
The bad news
Sales for BlackBerry 10 devices are likely to be weak again. Uncertainty that was created when the company shopped for buyers probably meant consumers would stay away from a BlackBerry device. BES (BlackBerry Enterprise Server) installations were delayed too. This was owed partly to uncertainty in BlackBerry’s future, along with longer implementation times needed to test the solution.
Bright spot: BES 10.2
BlackBerry noted around 30,000 BES10 test and commercial installations was done worldwide. BES is now on version 10.2. Taken from BlackBerry’s blog, BES 10.2 adds greater support for the management of non-BlackBerry smartphones, notably iPhones and Androids:
BES10 version 10.2 brings key new features to the platform, including:
• Expanded Multi-Platform support: Includes Secure Work Space support for iOS 7 background email sync, API support allowing the automation of BES10 functions for iOS and Android devices through BlackBerry Web Services, and dynamic support for iOS and Android OS updates, which allows IT administrators to create activation and application distribution rules for the latest iOS and Android devices that employees bring into the organization, without requiring a server upgrade.
• BYOD Enrolment for iOS and Android: truly enable BYOD by allowing administrators to manage only the Secure Work Space container on iOS and Android devices, thereby providing BYOD users with the assurance that the personal information and apps on their device remains in their control.
• Self-Service Portal: A self-service portal enables users to perform device management tasks on their own, meaning fewer calls to IT, lower TCO and more control to users.
• Reduced Cost: BES10 now easily scales to support 100,000 devices per domain, with any mix of BlackBerry, iOS and Android devices, reducing the number of servers and resources required for large scale deployments, and significantly reducing costs.
John Chen, BlackBerry’s newest CEO, wrote that the company was committed to mobile device management in the enterprise. A renewed focus on BES will give enterprises more confidence in implementing a BlackBerry server for managing devices.
Enterprises have a number of MDM (mobile device management) alternatives to consider besides BlackBerry. Good, AirWatch, and MobileIron are a few solutions for technology departments to look at.
The large reduction in staff at BlackBerry also meant a cut in supporting and promoting BlackBerry smartphones in the United States. This is was unfortunate, because the Z30 is a much-improved device that could have won Android users in the U.S. The Z30 has a 5-inch screen, an 8 megapixel camera with an aperture size of f/2.2. The battery life is rated at 18 hours talk time and 16 days stand-by, although the average reported talk time capacity was 12 hours and 20 days of stand-by.
- The BlackBerry Z30
BlackBerry 10.2.0.429 released
Though unlikely to support stronger sales for Z10/Q10, BBOS 10.2.0.429 was released in the quarter. In addition to improved stability, 10.2 added pop-up message previews. BlackBerry users could get a preview of emails and instant messages even when running another app. They could also reply to BBM’s accessed directly from the alert.
BBM Channels was released from beta. The Twitter- or Facebook-like site will not generate revenue, but showcases what the BBM ecosystem could be for BBM users, corporations, and brands.
BlackBerry shares could see new lows later this month, but the company plans to steam ahead with greater focus. It already reduced its size and boosted its cash levels. Enterprise customers planning to wind down BES 5.x (which will not be supported after 2015) need only evaluate the merits of implementing BlackBerry devices and BES in their environment. Conversely, companies that moved on from BlackBerry devices to Android and Apple might want to consider BES 10 for MDM.