By Ralph Rodgriguez, Blue Hill Research
It has been a little over a month since Computerworld’s Matt Hamblen reported that Gartner announced that “it’s ‘game over’ for BlackBerry” and gave holdouts six months to find a replacement. The company entered a preliminary agreement for a $4.7 billion sale to a group lead by its largest shareholder, Fairfax Financial Holdings. Since, BlackBerry has courted Facebook and a trio of buyers including Qualcomm, co-founders Mike Lazaridis and Doug Fregin, and Cerebus Capital Management. On Monday BlackBerry announced that it is raising $1 billion in convertible debt instruments sold to shareholders lead by Fairfax. However the events work out, the future of BlackBerry is far from certain.
While the rollout of the BlackBerry Z10 briefly put the company back in the black for its final quarter of 2013 (BlackBerry’s fiscal calendar ends in March), it didn’t prevent the company from losing an additional three million users worldwide. By BlackBerry’s second quarter of 2014 (ending in August 2013), the company reported that revenue was down 49% from the previous quarter, with diluted losses of $1.84 per share. The fall has been dramatic for BlackBerry. In 2007, BlackBerry phones accounted for 35% of the U.S Smartphone market. In 2013, it accounts for no more than 4.3%.
This news is of particular concern to longtime BlackBerry holdouts, such as organizations in government, healthcare, and legal sectors. In fact, BlackBerry claims several diehard loyalists in President Barack Obama, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, and UK Prime Minister David Cameron. However, if BlackBerry exits the market, all of these organizations will need to find ways to adapt quickly to new providers, and the likely heterogeneous BYOD environments.
Security will pose a major challenge to BlackBerry holdouts, many of whom operate in highly regulated data environments that involve: (1) access to highly sensitive information, (2) strong policy and regulatory controls dealing with data privacy and security, and (3) harsh consequences and penalties resulting from data breach. Traditionally, these companies have relied on the lock-down security features of the BlackBerry Enterprise Server (BES). However, as these organizations are forced to phase out BlackBerry, their options largely involve consumer-grade systems and security. Tackling the security challenges and risks related to this transition will be difficult, particularly given a potentially short window for change.
Blue Hill expects to see Enterprise Mobility vendors play a critical role in helping BlackBerry holdouts come to terms in a world without BlackBerry.
Mobile Device Management (MDM) vendors are poised to offer guidance and migration solutions that are currently unfamiliar to BlackBerry loyalists who are still waiting to be rescued. This is an opportunity for MDM vendors to capture new market share and help ease the pain of implementing enterprise communications in a post-BlackBerry world.
These providers are familiar with filling an intermediary position and offering an independent mobile management solution that takes the place of the BES, without tying companies to particular hardware deployments. Already, vendors such as AirWatch, Fiberlink’s MaaS360, Good Technology, and MobileIron are poised to help organizations in government, legal, and healthcare industries to transition off the BES. The most successful of these vendors will be the ones that can demonstrate how their offering maps to the industry-specific data privacy and security requirements of these holdouts.
Blue Hill is conducting a 10 question pulse survey™ . Help us understand how organizations are developing contingency plans for migrating to new device environments. Results and analysis will be made available to respondents.