No Blackberry is not Dead yet ,,,,,

No Blackberry is not Dead yet ,,,,,
20 Dec 11

In the words of Granny Weatherwax “I ate’nt dead” ….. (see Terry Pratchett’s discworld novels if this quote passes you by)

I’ve had enough – only this week on the Big show I had to defend Research In Motion (RIM) – then I read Paul Thurott’s blog post on RIM, even the BBC are at it. It just seems like a cheap shot. RIM shows no signs of bankruptcy, or poor business practices, yet the tech media insists they’re done finished and gone. I frankly think all these normally wise heads are swayed by these pretty glass rectangles made by fruit themed toy makers and a popular search engine company, and are missing the point completely.

Are Blackberry’s the best business phone? maybe not … they’ve had some misses with some recent handsets as they stepped away from what they know to sell pretty glass rectangles. However the simple curve/bold qwerty keyboard phones are best in class without a doubt. Not convinced Nokia, HTC, Motorola, Samsung and others all have a designs that looks similar, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. Why make one if the markets dead?

Yet, this is only the tip of the iceberg, the Blackberry infrastructure is superb, offering end to end e-mail encryption. You can start with a 50 user Blackberry Enterprise Server (BES) for free, and all you loose over the paid version, is some granular control. BES Express still has end to end e-mail encryption, remote wipe, application control and and all the other essential features you need. The recent outage in the UK only affected users of blackberry’s web-based BIS service. The rest of us with BES’s just carried on. 2011 outage was the first since 2009 each earlier outage was pretty minor.

The level of security up to recently has been ironclad, the encryption keys were closely guarded by RIM, and government’s were generally told to get stuffed if they asked for them. However in this “terrorist under the bed” post 9/11 world, RIM has released the keys to selected governments and security services after some arm twisting. But, its still the first choice for civil servants, drug dealers, spies and most recently rioters as a secure method of communication. What better recommendation is there….

Paul Thurrott’s recent hatchet job on RIM, was in some places well observed. The playbook was ill advised and they should have ignored the tablet fad and watched the market a bit longer before diving in. No one would have cared if just they carried on making qwerty keyboard phones, that’s what businesses the world over trust RIM to do . But, he missed the point in laughing at the playbook and the model of the month release schedule thats always been a “feature” of blackberry ownership. All thats small beer, RIM still provides reliable business class messaging services with fleets of Blackberries out there to prove it.

I’m sad to say lazy tech journalists seem blinded by the wizzy flash touch screen phones that are so trendy at the minute. They miss what the rest of the world is doing. Across the world now millions of blackberries are beeping and providing safe secure business critical email to everyone from CEO’s to engineers in oil fields. Thats the sound of success not of a company in trouble.

Ian Grant

Ian can be found on twitter @tioaboa and soon on his blog…. Ian is a system administrator with 15 years experience in the IT industry, and is a messaging and virtualisation specialist.

Author

Ian Grant

Comments

Very well put, Ian! Excellent article and a good, necessary venting, in my opinion!

I think it is fair to say that RIM is in a worse position compared to how things were back in 2006, when they practically were the smartphone market for a large portion of the world. As you say, they are still huge in corporate and there is no denying that. I do happen to live in the part of the world where BlackBerry is practically unheard of unless you know someone who does a lot of business travel, but from everything I have read and been told they are quite impressive little devices.

It’s not so much the actual devices, the product side of things, that worry me as much as the PR disaster that RIM has let build up over some time. The Playbook was, and still is, at best a rushed product looking for a market, rather than something I would expect a company who has pioneered several secure and innovative mobile solutions to build. Chasing a trend without much afterthought.

I don’t think that the lingo the two (!) CEOs use is of too much help either, being riddled with buzzwords and lofty promises about products that have yet to materialize. It’s a phenomenon commonly seen in the tech industry, where someone really should put the CEO on a leash when it comes to flapping their lips in public.

If RIM were to somehow completely fail, I don’t think it’s because of the products themselves or the associated services tied into them. No, no. At this point I think it’s more likely to be due to a failure in managing the expectations people have on the company.

Avatar Dan K

Ian,

You make some great points here. I do think that RIM are getting a lot of thoughtless press at the moment from tech journalists who think that the be all and end all of phone technology is an app store fronted by a gorilla glass screen. But RIM are due ‘some’ criticism.

When it comes to business use for phones and messaging right here – right now, RIM are still the best. Lightweight, well wearing phones with a fantastic battery life and solid integration at the enterprise level.

But what about tomorrows business? With people like Cisco rolling out systems like Quad (where social networking meets the corporate world) how are RIM going to compete when a) Apple & Android work in that sphere so much better and b) Application vendors fail to develop for Blackberry because it has no pedigree in the field?

That’s why their soiree in to touch screen phones and tablets was so important. The Playbook, for instance. They failed to convincingly define their target audience, over promised and under delivered. Native email support a case in point (basic email functionality for crying out loud). The hardware is great and so is QNX – why didn’t it take off? RIM didn’t know what they were doing with it. So why should anyone believe that the Blackberry brand has a place in the new world?

I’m not saying they’re dead – but the berry has hit the floor hard recently and left a nasty purple stain on the carpet.

Ian Grant Ian Grant

Thanks for the comments guys,

I needed to get that off my chest 🙂 I still think the business market will continue to demand qwerty smartphones and proper encryption and only RIM can really fulfil that properly.

this is quite interesting too.

Ian

Ian Grant Ian Grant

None of the people criticizing RIM work in an industry where the law regulates data protection. RIM’s strong suit is the fact that a company can easily configure and lock down its devices to be sure the data on the phone is secure on an enterprise-wide scale. Without these tools available how do large companies manage hundreds or thousands of phones with sensitive data? It is not possible to configure each phone by hand. Nor can it be left to the user to put protections in place (that certainly breaks all security models).

It’s funny, but the very same tech people who are so critical of RIM and are standing over the sad little shell of the phone proclaiming it a dead device are the very same people who have an absolute meltdown whenever a large scale data breach is trumpeted in the news.

Until Apple or Android come up with an enterprise solution, neither of them is useful on a large scale in companies that absolutely must protect data. If you see a bunch of people with Android or Apple phones from a company – you know that data security is not their primary goal.

BTW with iphone – if you want to make your data a bit more secure – turn off the simple pass code option and use a pass phrase instead. There is a tool available that will break the simple 4 digit pin code in no time flat if someone has access to the phone itself. It’s much harder to break a pass phrase… OTOH a pass phrase doesn’t make your phone extremely usable.

Not sure about the Android phones. I don’t own one and I haven’t kept track. But there is not a single computer security person I know of who considers the iphone or Android to be secure phones.

Disclaimer: I have an iphone… I have owned a Blackberry in the past. I have never owned an Android. Each phone has its own set of good points and problems. None are 100% the best thing to use.

Leave a comment:

* Required.