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Update: Gartner tells IT shops that it's 'game over' for BlackBerry

September 27, 2013 03:36 PM ET

"BlackBerry totally whiffed on the smartphone and consumerization of IT trends that Apple hit out of the park and that Android successfully has exploited," Menezes said on Friday. "BlackBerry failed to make timely moves and product introductions to keep itself in the consideration set for consumers who in the age of BYOD increasingly are shaping enterprise device and platform choices."

"Once it became clear to IT that iOS was a viable choice, it was game over for BlackBerry," Menezes concluded.

Gartner's three recommendations for Blackberry alternatives do include an upgrade to BlackBerry 10 devices for executives who want a physical keyboard or those in high security jobs.

But Menezes said even that scenario recommends that a company begin support of other smartphone platforms, either smartphones purchased for workers or those under an employee-purchased BYOD program.

A copy of the 8-page Gartner report, obtained late Friday by Computerworld, notes that Gartner's advice comes as its clients react to the recent bad news about BlackBerry, and ask what to do. "This represents an unusually large amount of negative news for a key vendor, so it's understandable that IT leaders would want to prepare for alternatives," Dulaney said in the report.

In addition, Gartner conducted an August poll of 400 IT and business leaders which found that 24% remain on the BlackBerry platform. The poll found that respondents expect that number will drop to 9% by 2016.

The poll was conducted before BlackBerry announced its loss, Dulaney noted. BlackBerry had only 2.7% of global smartphone sales in the second quarter of 2013, compared to 76.7% for Android, Gartner has noted.

The survey also found that 38% of the IT leaders are using Apple products, while 30% have Android products. The Android number share is expected to increase to 40% by 2016, slightly ahead of the projection for Apple.

Dulaney also said BlackBerry is right to pursue a course that will take it private, but suggested that BlackBerry will be split up, with the core company focusing on wireless services. "The hardware business will remain for sale, but there will be few buyers, leaving BlackBerry to attempt to emphasize niche markets, such as high-security environments," Dulaney said.

Dulaney suggested the hardware group could even be sold to a foreign government "which may be unsettling for some clients."

He didn't name any governments that could buy the group, but some analysts have suggested the Canadian government. BlackBerry has been a source of national pride and is based in Waterloo, Ont.

As for other elements of BlackBerry, including QNX, the base operating system behind BlackBerry 10, Dulaney said it could be reoriented to focus on real-time applications used in autos or elements in an emerging Internet of Things ecosystem.

BlackBerry's software and services divisions could be wrapped into a group that focuses on support of the remaining client base. The group would focus on its network operations center and 500 carrier relationships to manage and deliver applications and content, Dulaney said.

"If the company is split up, one or more of those components will exist to support the customer base until a transition can be made," Dulaney concluded. "The customer list is just too valuable to be ignored by the entire market of potential suitors."

Matt Hamblen covers mobile and wireless, smartphones and other handhelds, and wireless networking for Computerworld. Follow Matt on Twitter at Twitter@matthamblen, or subscribe to Matt's RSS feed Hamblen RSS. His email address is mhamblen@computerworld.com.

Read more about Mobile/Wireless in Computerworld's Mobile/Wireless Topic Center.



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