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Last quarter, BlackBerry sales plunged 81 percent to just 0.7 percent of the U.S. market share, down mightily from 2009, when RIM held 20.7 percent of the US smartphone market. RIM is certainly hoping that the late-March release of the Z10 will reverse its fortunes this quarter, but it has a long way to go in reaching the heights of its heyday. The BYOD movement is one big reason why.
In the late 2000s, BlackBerry was the darling of the enterprise business world. Employer-provided BlackBerrys were standard-issue at many large corporations. IT departments loved RIM’s secure transport infrastructure, which routed all messages sent from the phone through RIM’s Network Operations Center. This level of secure encryption was unmatched by early smartphone options from Android and Apple AAPL -0.55%, which were focused on the consumer market.
“BlackBerry previously gave you the tools to manage those inherent risks on their mobile devices,” explained Mark Gilmore, president of Wired Integrations. “However, devices like Android and Apple did not come with a nice secure little tool kit because that was not their original intended use.”
Since then, Android and Apple grew to capture nearly 95 percent of the U.S. consumer market combined, and many of those consumers clamored to use their preferred personal devices at work. By the end of 2011, studies showed that more than 30 percent of BlackBerry’s enterprise users were planning to switch to another device. Since then, a long list of companies – from Haliburton to Home Depot – abandoned BlackBerry for Apple and Android alternatives. In September, Tech Republic reported most IT leaders considered the iPhone as secure as BlackBerry.
Apple has added a slew of security features since the first iPhone was released, like 256-bit encryption for data storage, widespread VPN support, and restrictions on the access apps have to files and hardware resources, to protect against employees who unknowingly download data-stealing applications. “I’ve satisfied myself that Apple is there or thereabouts [when it comes to corporate security],” John Turner, IT director at accountancy network BDO LLP, told Tech Republic. “I think that Apple have caught RIM up.”
Mobile device management systems, or MDMs, are also contributing to the proliferation of BYOD culture. Companies like LabTech enable IT departments to manage and service multiple operating systems from a central system and offer controls—like VPN configuration, Wi-Fi enforcement, passcodes and software inventory controls—to ensure that employees use devices safely. Other MDMs, like Fiberlink Communications’ MaaS 360, and AirWatch, are starting to make their systems available to small firms as well, with rates under $10 per device per month, meaning that even tiny companies don’t have to sacrifice security for BYOD.
At this point, the BYOD movement appears unstoppable. A February Forrester study found that the number of “anywhere, anytime workers”—those using three or more devices, working from multiple locations and using many apps—rose from 23 percent in 2011 to 29 percent in 2012; the number of tablets used for work and home are expected to triple to 905 million units by 2017. “[T]he anytime, anywhere work trend is just getting started,” the report declared. That may be bad news for BlackBerry, but good news for workers with IT departments flexible enough to adjust.
Date: June 11, 2013