Canadian enterprises finally got their hands on the new BlackBerry Z10 handsets today as carriers and independent wireless stores across the country started distributing devices pre-ordered weeks ago.
In Toronto, BlackBerry CEO Thorsten Heins stood beside Rogers Communications Inc. CEO Nadir Mohamed, who sold the carrier’s first Z10 to a customer at the Rogers’ main store.
Several customers there cast an optimistic eye to the new hardware from the Waterloo, Ont.-based smart phone maker. Enthusiasm from IT directors seemed stoked by the ability of BES 10 to manage a bring your own device (BYOD) workplace scenario and the appeal of the new touchscreen Z10 and physical keyboard Q10 smart phones. The Q10 goes on sale in April.
Alexander Short, associate IT director at Iovate Health Sciences in Oakville, Ont., said he plans to demo one of two Z10 devices himself at the institution. He’s already implemented a BES 10 server to prepare for the testing and is interested to see how the devices hold up against other modern smart phones. He aims to make a decision about adopting the new units in about 30 days.
“A big part of it will be document management,” he says. “Do I have to forward that PDF to my iPhone so I can read it?”
A good Web browsing experience will also be important, he said. These areas were the pain points Iovate’s 80-odd BlackBerry 7 users have experienced, and perhaps why 20 users have adopted iOS instead. But since the company doesn’t expose its ActiveSync servers to the Internet, iPhone users are unable to synchonize their e-mail.
BlackBerry is tight-lipped when it comes to quantifying the interest in BlackBerry 10 thus far. Executives at the forum on Monday said wireless carriers have offered “unprecedented support” and things are going generally well.
“BlackBerry is very pleased with what we’ve seen to date,” says Andrew MacLeod, managing director of Canada for BlackBerry. “That’s all I can say publicly at this point.”
On the partner side, Mississauga, Ont.-based based Tata Consultancy Services Canada Inc. will be deploying BlackBerry 10 internally this quarter. But when it comes to its list of 30 plus BlackBerry 7 customers, they are taking a “wait and see” approach until the end of the quarter. Canada seems enthusiastic about its native smartphone, says Aditya Sahni, business relationship manager at Tata, but not all geographies have the same level of interest.
“With new product innovations sometimes comes some problems early on,” he says. “We’ll wait to see how it works out from a user experience point of view.”
BlackBerry [TSX: BB] put forth two enterprise customers operating in Canada at the forum that are well on the path to a full implementation of BES 10. Both Cisco Canada and Ricoh Canada took the stage to discuss progress in rolling out the platform.
Cisco Canada has a “huge contingent” of BlackBerry devices, according to Ian Gallagher, vice-president of collaboration at Cisco. Whether your IT department wants it or not, it’s important to recognize that partners and customers will be imposing a BYOD policy on you sooner or later, he said. Cisco doesn’t dictate what devices employees use, allowing them to use off-the-shelf smart phones as they like.