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Three people on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange display their Blackberry smartphones. (RICHARD DREW/AP)
Three people on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange display their Blackberry smartphones. (RICHARD DREW/AP)

BlackBerry faces dogfight as firm returns to its corporate roots Add to ...

BlackBerry says it is the only device manager that can offer full support for all manufacturers’ devices. But Samsung, the world’s biggest seller of smartphones, won’t give BlackBerry access to APIs for two of its key enterprise-oriented software programs, which are designed to offer BlackBerry-level security on its phones. BlackBerry says it can still provide the same level of management abilities and security on Samsung devices as other Android devices, and Jefferies analyst Peter Misek dismissed the slight as only a “mild impairment.”

But a former senior BlackBerry executive with knowledge of the situation said Samsung’s withholding “is enormously costly to BES10 adoption in the U.S.” as it enables BlackBerry’s rivals to offer an increased level of security, cutting into a long-standing competitive advantage and improving Samsung’s already formidable position in the smartphone market.


New server gains support

While BlackBerry appears to be struggling to fortify its position in the enterprise market, it would be unwise to dismiss the Waterloo, Ont., firm. It still has a large installed base of customers and many notable clients have upgraded to the latest version of the BES server, including Air Canada, MetLife, Citigroup, PwC Canada and Torys LLP.

Meanwhile, BlackBerry offers an array of levels of security offerings – including the industry’s “gold standard,” still favoured by secretive government agencies.

Meanwhile, despite BlackBerry’s fallen state, it may be in better shape to survive a collapse in pricing and a shakeout of the industry’s increasingly numerous device management players, which John Girard, an analyst at Gartner, recently warned may be in store.

“Mobile device management is in chaos ... and I think this market is going to die,” he said in June.

Those are hardly encouraging words for a fallen tech giant looking to rebuild in the market it once dominated, but BlackBerry is keeping a brave face.

“Transformations are hard,” Mr. Bates says. “But I can see the light at the end of the tunnel, I can see where we’re going, I have a clear view of the problem we’re trying to solve.”



What’s BlackBerry’s history

with business customers?

BlackBerry has been the device of choice for most business people – at big banks, government departments and other companies, both large and small – since the company’s early models liberated people from their desks with mobile e-mail.

Why are business customers

so important to BlackBerry?

Corporate customers, for years, formed the cornerstone of BlackBerry’s user base. They bought more devices – by the hundreds or thousands – and often bought more expensive models.

What happened next?

The smartphone industry became more competitive. Apple’s iPhone and devices running Google’s Android software changed users’ expectations of what phones could do. Those preferences migrated into the workplace, where people started demanding and using iPhones and Android phones.

But I thought businesses

needed BlackBerry?

They used to. People stopped wanting to carry two devices, and many employees preferred Apple’s iPad. This helped kick-start the “bring your own device” trend and the “mobile device management” industry.

What’s BYOD and MDM?

Bring your own device means exactly that: Employees bringing their own phones to work, and having work e-mail and business apps enabled. That saves IT managers money. Mobile device management is a service that allows businesses to handle – securely – all the iPhones, iPads and Android phones their employees are now using instead of BlackBerrys.

So what happens

to BlackBerry now?

BlackBerry – its business battered by rivals and its employees suffering through layoffs – has said it will cut costs and refocus on business customers, rather than end consumers. But BlackBerry admitted in its latest financial disclosures that those core business customers have been slow to upgrade to the company’s new BlackBerry 10 system. Iain Marlow

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