Tuesday, May 03, 2011

The Changing Face of Mobile in the Enterprise - RIM's Obituaries are already being written

Galen Gruman writes a great article that is basically an Obituary for RIM and the Blackberry line: 

The fat lady has sung: The end of BlackBerry

For me it was the Storm that shook my faith in Blackberry. Their first touchscreen was an abysmal product. Prior to the Storm I had used the 8830 world phone, but the version released on Verizon used blue back lighting for the keyboard which made letters blurry at night, at least for me. I found myself using my iPhone with the virtual keyboard and the ability to see the letter you had pressed in preference to my Blackberry, even for work email.  The usability of the Storm was not much better. The glow around the key that was pressed didn't help you see what key you were pressing. 

Before long all I used the Blackberry Storm for was broadband access for my laptop. I could get my company email on my trusty iPhone. Eventually when I upgraded to the iPhone4 I found myself forgetting to even charge the Storm. I would drop it in to my bag as I went through Airport security and simply forget to take it out again. 

Things are not getting any better for RIM. The Playbook arrived and disappointed reviewers. RIM classed it in Ads as "A Professional Grade Tablet." Since when did a professional communications device NOT handle email? It's dependence on a Blackberry for connectivity means that it can never be a "break-out" product for RIM. It is only of use to existing customers.  Yes the Playbook has WiFi but if you want email you need to tether to a blackberry phone, or use web mail in the browser. 

I agree with Galen. If you are managing mobility in the Enterprise I would be looking at iOS and Android and seeking out device management platforms that can support both platforms. I would End of Life the Blackberry Enterprise Server and Blackberry devices and plan to retire as mobile users retire their devices and select a new device. 

Why select a management platform for iOS and Android? Because users are increasingly bringing their own devices and the iPad is currently the dominant tablet offering. Even if Android delivers a great tablet iOS tablet devices are going to maintain a significant market penetration for the foreseeable future. Realistically, except in possibly the most heavily locked down environments, mobile managers will be dealing with both Android and iOS. 

Let's not under estimate the impact that RIM has had in the mobile marketplace. I remember getting my first two-way alphanumeric pager back in the 1990's. It was a major step forward. The power to receive a message and reply was amazing.  Then SMS text messaging took off. RIM's delivery of email gave us the "Crackberry" and it stimulated our need to be connected. But the market has moved on and one of the tenets of this Web 2.0 world is the power of the network and the platform. iOS and Android are decimating RIM, Nokia's Symbian and Windows Mobile because they have created a platform that is bigger than the device. RIM, Symbian and WinMo were more focused on powering devices. Each device was a different beast. Apple's winning move was to create a platform. It made it easier for developers to target multiple devices and the ecosystem that created is almost self-fuelling. 

Yes, RIM is dead - they just don't know it yet.

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