How Blackberry’s Downfall Reshaped Enterprise Mobile

Jon Kravetz | July 6, 2015 | Mobile Strategy

Just seven years ago Blackberry’s worldwide mobile device market share was over 50%. As of June 2015, Blackberry’s market share is projected to be down to 0.5%. Blackberry’s rapid decline in the workplace caused a massive disruption in the enterprise. As with any big technology shift, enterprise users are the late adopters.

image1Back in early 2008, corporate employees were already using iPhones for business purposes. Employees may have been able to access their work email via native device mail or Gmail forwarding. However, the workarounds couldn’t compete with Blackberry’s sync capabilities, as Apple devices lacked any integration with Microsoft Exchange Server.

It wasn’t until Apple’s release of the iPhone 3g, in July 2008, that enterprise IT departments in the US gained access to Exchange support for iPhone. Once Exchange Server became supported, business users gained an even stronger preference for non-blackberry devices; and, thanks to a lower price point, Android devices became prevalent. As of May 2015, iOS holds 72% of the enterprise market share, while Android has only 26%.

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Whether on an iPhone or Android device, business users enjoyed having desktop-equivalent functionality on their phones while the hardware afforded them a completely new user experience. Once enterprise IT had to begin supporting the demand for BYOD (with pressure from executives who saw the new technology as an opportunity), it became clear we were headed for new terrain.

While technical professionals appreciated the power and capabilities of these new devices, they still lacked Blackberry’s tried, true and tested integration capabilities, leaving CIOs and CTOs with a potential support gap.

CIOs and CTOs listed the following as barriers to wider deployment of Apple products amongst their workforce.

  • High costs
  • Lack of integration with business systems
  • Limited management tools

Critics of the new players in enterprise mobility pointed to a lack of an enterprise-focused tool-set and reporting service they previously took for granted with Blackberry Enterprise. While, Apple and Google released their platforms for consumers, they wisely allowed for enterprise hooks. Thankfully a number of third-party companies have emerged to fill the void.

Third-Party Services offered:

  • MDM (Mobile Device Management): Corporate data segregation, secure emails, secure documents, corporate policies, integration, and device management.
  • MAM (Mobile App Management): Provides provisioning and controls access to internally developed and commercially available apps used in a business setting.
  • MEAP (Mobile Enterprise Application Platform): A comprehensive suite of products and services enabling development of mobile applications.

Before BYOD became a possibility, BlackBerrys were normally distributed to employees through a single channel, running similar software, and could be swapped out through hardware-supplier vendor agreements. This technology shift in mobile would require IT to begin supporting a variety of hardware and OS configurations. Furthermore, a company’s enterprise software offering would now have to work across all devices. BYOD policies have now become a standard in many workplaces. In fact, Gartner Predicts that by 2017, Half of Employers will Require Employees to Supply Own Device for Work Purposes.

It wasn’t until late spring/early summer 2014 that Apple started to provide higher-tier support for devices used in an enterprise capacity. Apple’s business customers gained 24/7-phone support through their AppleCare for Enterprise service. Around the same time, Google introduced the Mobile Management Administration module through their Google Apps service. Mobile Management provides limited centralized administration of workplace Android devices, including inactive account wipe, support for EAP-based WiFi networks, compromised device detection, and access to reporting fields for integration with business systems. Apple and Google clearly aim to move toward that “single stack” mobility model which made BlackBerry a stalwart of the enterprise.

With a seemingly ever-changing landscape, businesses struggle to keep up with the growing demands of mobility in the workplace. Propelics helps companies leverage the power of mobile devices to streamline processes and integrate with business systems, providing secure access to company data.

Since the steady demise of BlackBerry, enterprise mobility has evolved so as to be unrecognizable from its former self. IT support has become more expensive and complex due to the number of devices and OS versions offered. However, with the flexibility and raw power of these devices come new opportunities. Competitive businesses will continue to maximize the value of the smartphone both within the enterprise and throughout their target markets.

Jon Kravetz

Jon Kravetz is a Sr. Mobile Application Developer and Mobile Expert at Propelics where he assists large enterprise organizations bring mobile solutions to life. He has managed technical projects at Nike, Inc. and led a software startup in southern California where he worked with thought leaders from companies such as Disney, IBM, and Accenture. Jon holds degrees in Mathematics and Philosophy from University of California, Irvine and has a passion for innovation and technology.

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