Gartner may have told enterprises to ditch BlackBerry and consumers have largely turned their back on the company. But many enterprises move to a different, slower beat. So news of the company's new hire might keep them interested in the mobile vendor, at least for a while.
Stick or Switch
Since its failed attempts in 2013 to reinvent and sell itself, BlackBerry has turned to John Chen to take over the interim reins at BlackBerry. There has been wholesale upheaval of the board since his arrival. Now he's hiring those he thinks can offer key focus and insight to get the company back into the minds of CIOs and enterprise IT departments.
Chen hired Sims at Sybase (a SAP company) back in 2011, so this move reunites a pair with a successful relationship. Sims will join in January from SAP, where he was in charge of its mobile services business. He is also a director of CITA, the wireless standards group, giving him both corporate and technical clout, which enterprises could see as a positive sign even as they quietly plan their transition to other mobile providers or explore bring your own device (BYOD) options.
While the company looks in one direction by opening up BBM and its new social Channels feature to all smartphone users, the hire shows it wants to sell its hardware and services to enterprises. There are several reasons to think the strategy could succeed.
Convincing Businesses To Stay
When asked to focus on the core mobile features that enterprises use, the majority are interested largely in email, communications and access to business data. BlackBerry can do two of those as well as anyone, but lacks some of the application and data access features due to its weaker app ecosystem.
With only a few big-name apps to be found on the store like Box, Citrix Receiver and Cisco WebEx, it remains BlackBerry's weak spot for businesses. This can't be solely addressed by BlackBerry, but if it starts to show signs of entrenching its place in the enterprise market, then business app makers could soon come back. The company has been getting that advice from everyone (both consumers and business) since the launch of BB10, so it can't deny or ignore it.
In the short term, for accessing data through the cloud services that many enterprises use, the BlackBerry 10 OS's browser is just as effective, leaving only those who need to access data through a specific app feeling let down by the latest BB devices. Also, with its Secure Work Spaces, enterprises can mix and match devices for those who need access to a specific app.
With a range of hardware available for customers, BlackBerry can spend its remaining billions wisely, courting essential apps, and talking directly to enterprises now that it has all but given up the consumer space. It doesn't need 64-bit power to run enterprise apps or 40-megapixel cameras, so it can step back from the hardware race, focusing on software and services with minor hardware revisions.
While there has been plenty of bad or confusing news from the company, it continues to function, having announced this week a 10,000 device and BES (BlackBerry Enterprise Service) 10 services roll-out to car maker Peugeot. Expect more news from the company when it announces its latest financial results on Friday.