BlackBerry 7100


So in the space of a few days BlackBerry sells itself and then the analyst group Gartner seems to offer seemingly unprecedented direct advice to its clients – “get the f*** out of there!”. (I paraphrase – a more balanced description of what Gartner said is here.

I wonder if the demise of BlackBerry will actually see the demise of the concept of the “company mobile” more broadly?

For many years, the handsets weren’t the important part of the BlackBerry offer – it was the network – whilst they could have turned that into a service of greater value to more customers, they failed as they got blindsided on one side by thinking the network itself was the thing of value (hence not acting to make services like BBM available across other devices) and on the other by the devices (with disasters like the Storm handset that was supposed to be an “iPhone killer” for Verizon, but in fact could be seen as RIM’s first act of Hari Kiri).

As I heard it described on the Guardian’s Tech Weekly podcast last week, a BlackBerry handset used to be a sign that you had made it, career wise. Today it’s a sign that the IT department don’t give you a choice. Maybe going forward (now that many IT departments have services in place to deliver email reliably and securely to iOS and Android devices) we’ll see the end of BlackBerry, and it’s Enterprise Servers, marking the end of the employer-supplied mobile phone? The point at which Bring Your Own Device becomes the norm, not the exception?

From the employee perspective there is definitely an advantage in only having to have one device (so many of use carry two these days), although being able to “turn work off” is something of a challenge (and ironically functionality that BlackBerry themselves were providing, even if no-one really ever worked out how to use it). From an employer perspective, other than losing control of telephone numbers (and are the numbers that important these days anyway? a phone number isn’t much more relevant than an IP number in these days of smart address books and LinkedIn…). There’s a cost/capital/benefit equation to be done, I’m sure, but I kind of see a mobile these days in the same way as broadband. Your employer might pay for it for you, but you shouldn’t expect it.

The end of BlackBerry in its current guise spells the end of big IT providing closed solutions to mobile collaboration. That might be more significant than it might first appear….

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