BlackBerry 10: Better mousetrap for enterprise mobile

This Computerworld demo video of RIM's new BlackBerry 10 shows some fancy new features and a few nice touches, including a slick task manager with app preview icons, and nice transitions between app icon grids. Perhaps the coolest consumer-focused feature is a camera app that lets you dial backward in time to get just the right picture - a feature RIM calls time shift mode.

About four minutes into the demo video (skip to 3:40), RIM's Jeff Gadway demonstrates how a shapshot of him with eyes closed can be dialed back - a circullar dial appears around his face -- to capture him a moment earlier with his eyes open. Then he does the same for another person in the same photo. "I can choose a different moment for each face and create a moment that never existed," he says.

That's all well and good. But what's really cool for business use is the BlackBerry Hub, a unified comminications view that collects all of your social media, instant messages, email, etc. in one place; and BlackBerry Balance, a new feature in BlackBerry Enterprise Server that supports a "containerization" technology to allow users to have a personal space for apps and data that is completely isolated from the business use of their phone. Clearly, this device is designed for business first, and clearly, the competition is designed for consumers first. Is that a competitive advantage? Yes. And no.

The one advantage I see for RIM here is that the tight integration it can acheive by owning both the hardware and software, along with a dedicated enterprise focus for its phones, could allow for stronger security and a better business experience for BlackBerry 10 users than what can be acheived today with competing devices. Currently, the third-party tools available to manage the consumer-focused Android and iPhone platforms don't offer the same degree of control over the user device that RIM can offer on its own BlackBerry 10. RIM has a mature, established technology for managing moblie smart phone use for business.

RIM does business better. But the trend is moving toward BYOD for many enterprises, where users are overwhelmingly choosing Android and iPhone. There's no dialing back on that. And while its upcoming BlackBerry Mobile Fusion management software will work with those devices as well as BlackBerry 10 and higher, it's not clear that RIM has a big advantage in that sphere. Furthermore, in a BYOD scenario I can't see consumers choosing the BlackBerry 10 as the phone they bring to work. The device, nice as it appears as a business phone, can't hold a candle to Android and iOS for consumer apps or developer commitment to those platforms -- and the new device also must compete against Microsoft for developer mindshare as its Windows Phone strives to catch up with Android and iOS in the app race.

Bottom line: Businesses that use a mix of smart phones that include BlackBerry 10 devices will certainly benefit by using BlackBerry Balance and BlackBerry 10, as will security-focused organizations that still want a company-issued smart phone for business use.

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