Ask your fifth grader what a BlackBerry is and he’ll probably point you to fruit that grows on a bush.
Ask a 40 to 60 year old or someone like Google boss Eric Schmidt the same question and you’ll get a sentimental love saga about the first mobile device that made it big in the workplace.
In fact, Schmidt may still have his in his pocket — less than a year ago he admitted to the Canadian press that he never quit using his. He does, of course, also carry an Android phone for good show.
But enough about how BlackBerry won hearts (think QWERTY keyboard), it’s whether it retains or wins the trust of the corner office that matters now.
It stands a good chance of doing both. After all, there are two things that Android and iPhones haven’t been able to take from it; one is its unique QWERTY keyboard (which appears to be patented), the other is its image as super-secure mobile messaging device that’s so iron-clad that even (former) Secretary of State Hilary Clinton used one.
Since consumers no longer seem to want BlackBerry handsets (regardless of the keyboard), the company has to bank on the enterprise for its future.
And it already has not only a good reputation there, but also almost unparalleled security assets.
Hans-Christoph Quelle, when he was CEO of Secusmart, the software company that designed BlackBerry’s encryption, told investment site SeekingAlpha that “Theoretically, it would take 149 billion years to crack this (BlackBerry’s security) code based on today's technical standards, even with the use of special computers.”
BlackBerry, to its credit, acquired Secusmart last year.
But security isn’t worth much if it prevents you from working with and sharing and collaborating on content in an anytime, always on, any device, kind of world.
That’s something that BlackBerry CEO John Chen seems to understand well. In April the company acquired WatchDox, which Gartner rated as Visionary in in its most recent Enterprise File and Synchronization (EFSS) MQ.
The Right Stuff, A Bigger Footprint
Today BlackBerry announced that it has acquired mobile device management vendor Good Technology.
It’s a smart buy given Good Technology’s track record in providing BlackBerry-like solutions across mobile platforms such as iOS, Windows and Android. In the most basic sense, it gives BlackBerry instant access to a broader base of enterprise customers.
It’s also interesting (and ironic) to note that Good Technology offers(ed) products to help enterprises securely transition from BlackBerry to iOS and Android. Now enterprises could be paying BlackBerry to do that (and potentially paving the way to new customer relationships.
Watch Out VMware, AirWatch, Citrix, MobileIron, IBM
As more and more Enterprises become officially mobile, there’s a substantial market to be won in Enterprise Mobility Management (EMM).
Though AirWatch (now owned by VMware), Citrix, MobileIron, and IBM currently share Gartner’s Leaders Quadrant with Good Technology (BlackBerry is listed as a Niche Player because of its limited OS support), the synergy between the two companies might now change the game for all involved. One plus one could equal three.
It’s also interesting to note that when we reached out to some of BlackBerry’s (new) competitors for comment, we got nothing but boilerplate responses.
When we dug deeper, we got more of the same. They could have been dismissive, instead they sounded disrupted. But hey, who wants a surprise on theFriday of a Labor Day weekend?