As Research In Motion Ltd. prepares for the launch early in 2013 of its crucial new BlackBerry 10 smartphones, the company is starting to roll out incentives so that big corporate and government clients buy the new devices.
Despite consumers' preference for devices such as the iPhone and smartphones running Google Inc.'s Android software, many IT departments at large multinational companies and security-conscious government departments still use the BlackBerry – at least for now.
Many corporations and government agencies have adopted bring-your-own-device policies that allow employees to bring iPhones and Android sets to work. RIM, if it wants to find success with its new platform, desperately needs big, existing clients to upgrade to BlackBerry 10, in addition to trying to sell the phones to consumers.
On Thursday, RIM announced that it was implementing a program for so-called enterprise clients that makes it easier for them to upgrade to the software that helps them manage the newest crop of BlackBerrys.
One of these new programs allows one member of the IT staff within an organization the chance to win a free BlackBerry 10 phone – if he or she completes an online learning course, and providing the company already uses BlackBerrys. RIM is also launching a series of webcasts to address frequently asked questions from enterprise clients and is also allowing existing users of the BlackBerry enterprise server – software that helps manage BlackBerrys – to trade up to the latest version for free until late December.
Though they are not exactly blockbuster announcements, the new programs may help with sales among smaller or medium-sized businesses. Corporate clients, of course, were the cornerstone of RIM's success in the earliest days of smartphones, and they remain one of RIM's most lucrative niches.
Although it is unclear exactly how many companies will jump onboard with BlackBerry 10, or whether the phone will meet with success among consumers, some bank analysts suggest that a lot of companies will upgrade.
"A good portion of the 80 million BlackBerry users have got to be a little bit desperate for a modern phone," wrote Byron Capital Markets analyst Tom Astle in a recent research note. "We can see this driving positive earnings next year."