Smartphones

A third of BlackBerry's enterprise base to head for exits in 2012

BlackBerry got a big warning sign this week from a new survey showing enterprise customers leaving, but the platform isn't dead yet. See why.

This week when I was at Gartner Symposium 2011, an annual conference for enterprise IT leaders, I posted on Twitter that this event is a traditional stronghold of BlackBerry users so I was surprised to see that well over 50% of the attendees -- most of them wearing suits and ties -- were now carrying iPhones or Android devices.

This observation was reinforced on Thursday by the release of new research from Enterprise Management Associates. In companies with 10,000 or more users that currently use Research in Motion's BlackBerry, 30% of them plan to abandon it and switch to another platform in the next year.

"We expected to see some market share loss by RIM, but these results were far more dramatic than we could have anticipated," said Steve Brasen, EMA's managing research director.

The EMA currently puts BlackBerry market share at 52% in these organizations that have 10,000 or more users. The anticipated drop in 2012 would decrease that number to 36%.

I've said recently that BlackBerry is destined to shrink and evolve into a niche platform for high-security organizations such as governments and others with sensitive data concerns. However, BlackBerry's massive server outage earlier this month disrupted some users for days and brought BlackBerry's main value proposition into question since the company and its core users typically argue that security and reliability are the main reasons to stick with BlackBerry.

The platform is becoming almost completely abandoned by consumers because of its lack of software and the fact that it just isn't as easy to use as iPhone or Android since it makes you dig through lots of menus and preferences rather than just touching and swiping.

As Chris Duckett reported from BlackBerry DevCon this week, RIM announced its next generation operating system BBX, which is an amalgamation of BlackBerry OS 7 and the QNX OS that powers the BlackBerry PlayBook. As I noted in my BlackBerry PlayBook review, there's a lot to like about the performance of QNX but there just wasn't a whole lot to do with it because of the lack of software -- both from RIM itself and from third party developers.

Sanity check

RIM has two things it needs to do to shore up its base over the next year. First, it will have to improve the app situation significantly. That can be tough on a platform that is perceived as shrinking, but RIM's can play to its strengths by pitching app developers on the fact that they won't be drowned out by the crowd the way they are in the iOS and Android app stores. RIM can also take a page out of Microsoft's book from Windows Phone 7 and simply offer developers incentives to put apps on their platform.

Second, RIM will absolutely need to avoid any more big outages that will further erode trust in the platform's backend reliability among enterprise organizations. Still, if BlackBerry can do those things and continue to own 30% to 40% of the enterprise market, then the BlackBerry platform will survive. It will likely be a smaller, leaner RIM that runs it, but it could still be a solid business with a vocal niche community of loyal users.

About

Jason Hiner is the Global Editor in Chief of TechRepublic and Global Long Form Editor of ZDNet. He is an award-winning journalist who writes about the people, products, and ideas that are revolutionizing the ways we live and work in the 21st century.

26 comments
Displacednaija
Displacednaija

Can't figure out short cut keys to take you to the top or bottom of an email list. If BB are monitoring, this will be a big bonus. There is a lot of UX work stacking up for RIM product designers IMHO.

PFCNPFCN
PFCNPFCN

The future of the World belongs to fulfillment of customer needs (CN) associated with increasingly mobile processes. The bottom line for CN is effective business processes in which the device, like a Blackberry, is a mere design parameter (DP) meeting the functional requirements (FR) of the process. The fact that processes are driven by decisions on devices, rather than the opposite, is simply the tail wagging the dog.

fcleroux
fcleroux

1) When our Vancouver store had the big lineup to get the new iPhone 4 (the original one) the local media was there interviewing users, many business people in suits, and asked them why they were getting an iPhone. 85% of them replied way cooler apps and better games! I wish most CEO's had seen the interviews. Oh wait, those were probably the stupid CEO decision makers. 2) On usibility; the iPhone 4 needed a case to work properly. Bu the few people I know that use them in business have these big huge cases. A case so that the phone actually works (my how quick people forget Apple failures) and a very fat case to boot for the built in battery to make sure the phone will actually work all day. I would consider this another failure. Apple lovers always point out the iPhone is sleeker and shinnier. Yes, easy to do when you din't install a battery that lasts all day. 3) Several of these people with overly large cases have yet another devive in their other pocket. Yes, BT keyboards. They hate the touchscreen keyboard for doing any lengthy e-mail so they walk around with another device in their pockets. Yes, very sleek. 4) And when you deal with AlexixGarcia's point's, all REAL and factual and oh so very necessary in a real enterprise world where any sort of security is required, the Androids and Apples fail misserably.

alexisgarcia72
alexisgarcia72

I'm wondering how I can setup an Iphone to do the things I actually do with ALL MY USERS in the company with blackberries thanks to the Blackberry Enteprise Server? I don't believe Iphones or Android Devices have features I have (from years) with BES: - Wireless Enterprise activation. This is a super important feature. - Hiper-Sync - capability to sync in real time not only the inbox but the sent items and other folders, calendar (two way), contacts, notes, etc - Deploy critical applications (like MessageOne) at the same time in multiple users via policy. - Inventory control (networks in use, battery %, owner, PIN, IMEI, applications installed, last contact time, last message delivery, etc) in real time and remotely - Data Encryption (remember, BB is the only mobile device allowed by goverment agencies like DoD) - Ability to provide internet browsing in the device by using the company Firewall, Intrusion Detection, Forescout and NAC technologies (with BES). - AutoBackups - the BES backups for all users all settings from the device. Not only email, SMS and phone call logs, but everything!: favorites, logs, notes, calendar, sms, mms, mails, data, languages, templates, etc. If an user lost the BB and have a new one, a BB enterprise activation setup the new BB just like the old one!! via wireless, in less than 5 minutes! without user interaction! Can please someone tell me how we can achieve that with an iPhone or Android? Good points, no?

PineappleBob
PineappleBob

Why is it that in a forum like this, full of techies, there is so much confusion as to saying a BB is hard to use or full of too many notifications? I have used iPhone, Android and BB. I find, as with most things, your choice is yours to make, but the BB is by far the most reasonable to modify for notifications than the other platforms for my use and for those who will take a bit of time to learn the device. Are you aware that out of the box, BB has 8 notification styles ranging from silent to loud? All of these are customizable as well. You can have LED notifications for nearly everything as well, which is nice to simply look at your phone to know if there is something important there for you. As for spam, perhaps you had better made adjustments somewhere else. "The platform is becoming almost completely abandoned by consumers because of its lack of software and the fact that it just isn???t as easy to use as iPhone or Android since it makes you dig through lots of menus and preferences rather than just touching and swiping." This is pure bunk and hyperbole. I see more and more consumers using BB than other devices. I also see many high schoolers going for BB because of BBM. BB is also growing steadily in places like India where the market is potentially huge. While BB may be losing some shine and cachet in north america, it is certainly not going away any time soon. Android, BB, and ios, all do the same things, it boils down to what works well for you. I have used both trackpad and rollerball BBs, and find that if either is not working as I like, I can adjust its settings for accuracy and speed. I also find the BB to be able to allow me to get away from mains power for more than a couple of hours, which I could not do with Android. Use what you like and what works best for you. BB will be around for plenty of time and those of us who like a real keyboard know the BB Bold 9000 and Bold 9900 cannot be beaten for speed or accuracy. As for apps which is always the biggest comment; I don not have a need for over 300 fart apps, sorry, I just don't have a use for such garbage.

crowell
crowell

Let's face it the Torch is about equal to an iPhone 3g. My enterprise needs the stability of RIM/Blackberry. But my executives appear to be behind the curve with technology when they are at a customer and whip out their blackberries. When RIM forgot that SmartPhones are status symbols they started to lose the battle. If I can get t-mobile Torch2 into the hands of the Executives that are even still willing to carry a BB then I can turn the tide. I hate supporting the iPhone and the Androids. They aren???t bad phones, they just don???t manage calendars well. I do hear from my users I wish I had my Blackberry back, but my iPhone is so much nicer.

damyankee007
damyankee007

im on my 11th black berry 9700 bold, all had problems . .im using now the black berry bold 9780 so far its so so. but when im able to switch phones next month bye bye black berry.

magashpillay
magashpillay

They have huge penetration in South Africa. It is In the youth market due to - BIS service. For around $10 you get unlimited internet. The experiences is poor due to throttled internet but in an internet starved market they make a compelling offer.

ITOdeed
ITOdeed

Not sure what RIM is up to business philosophy-wise, but I use a BOLD and it does everything I need for it to do at this time. I don't need a media phone because I don't have time to use media when I'm working. And at home, I use my laptop for media stuff. But I've always thought that RIM was woefully ignoring the Internet with their smartphones, and that's too bad for them in a business sense. If the BB displays and browsers evolve to be par with android and iPhone devices, I think they will survive okay. Hope so.

Vulpinemac
Vulpinemac

In my access to one of the industry's biggest banking institutions, I get to hear about the technologies the users prefer, as compared to what the executives think they should use. In most cases where IT personnel in particular were offered a Blackberry for in-house use free of charge, the vast majority turned it down as simply too complicated for the tasks at hand. They said nothing about its reliability and security, they simply didn't like the hoops you had to jump through simply to use the thing. This four-day outage merely emphasized to them that they were able to keep working effectively compared to others who had taken the bank up on its offer.

katyn1
katyn1

I have found that when I am answering email on my Blackberry and owners of other products see me that say, "Awe I wish I had my Blackberry. There was nothing like that for email and I loved how it worked." So many are trading a perfect business smart phone for a play toy and guess what? They aren't that happy with their new play toy. If people were serious about business they would own a Blackberry!

PineappleBob
PineappleBob

If I understand your comments, or is it a question. To get to the bottom of the email list, simply press the B key once. To go back to the top, simply press the T key once. Screen scrolling is by pressing the space bar.

SBMobile
SBMobile

Why is RIM promoting their new service "BlackBerry Balance", that is inviting non-BB users to sync their devices with BB-services. At DevCon & at the OS7 events, RIM went out of their way to invite non-BB users to use their "balance" service. The real reason for RIM's invitation is that many carriers are now looking at their own "secured" e-mail/device services that have NO extra charges or USELESS services, but provide a secure system for companies. RIM is scared & is scrambling to retain customers, while being blind to these events before they became public! Classic RIM!! They ALWAYS fail to see the upcoming trend or innovation in technology, so much so, that it's become their normal pattern & is expected! Stop living in 2009, like RIM is! All of those "Apple doesn't" days are over! While BB-lovers blindly follow RIM over the cliff, everyone else is being set free & loving it! Later!

wdewey@cityofsalem.net
wdewey@cityofsalem.net

If enterprise activation (EA) is what I am thinking of then android phones and iphones don't need it. I know a couple people that would like to tie their personal blackberry into the corporate BES system, but it will cost them like $20 or $30 a month for their provider to turn on the EA. They are now waiting for their contract to be up so they can switch phones. -Hiper-Sync - My android phone sync's all these items in real time out of the box. I personally am not aware of any way to do the other options on an android or iphone device, but if people are using their personal phones and giving back their business phone then these features may only matter to a small subset of the market. Bill

MarvinK
MarvinK

A few years ago it would have been really hard to find anything even comparable to BES for other devices (although Good Technology's software works very similarly and locks down the corporate area very well), but this has changed dramatically over the past year or two. If you have a mature Mobile Device Management solution, you'd be hard-pressed to find anything that you actually do on your BES that you can't do with the help of your MDM. The BlackBerry is still by far the most powerful email and calendar system, but most people don't use the advanced features because it does take some willingness to learn. If you you prefer simple to powerful, there are better choices. My biggest concern with BlackBerry is their software quality continues to go downhill, they're abandoning old devices (OS6 device owners were left out in the cold, despite having a buggy OS and some of the most popular enhancements in OS7 would have been EASY to push to OS6 users... I doubt they'll support existing devices with OSX), they aren't updating software fast enough to keep up with their sloppy new OS releases, and they're not going to be getting more $$ to invest in development--they're letting people go). The future is really bleak for BlackBerry.

SBMobile
SBMobile

I hear what you're saying, but in reality, it's coming from a place of ignorance. You don't really sound like a person that's used any of the mentioned devices other than a BB! BB's ARE very confusing compared to iPhone's! My 2-year old gets a touch-interface in seconds, while a grown-up (every BB-user), has to ask their friend how to find "this" & how to find "that"! It's ridiculous & as a BB-user, you can't deny that you've spent a lot of time looking for certain functions on your device or you've asked someone you know, who owns the same phone for advice on how to do things! If that doesn't sound complicated, I don't know what does! Plus, e-mail on iPhone's IS WAY better than BB's. There are NO previews in any of BB's e-mail's, in the name of security, while Apple just puts a password in the lock screen. Now with "Siri", Apple is about to eliminate password's all together! Just wait & see, since I know you have NO clue what I'm talking about! lol! You're ignorant! The irony of your statements will haunt you for some time! Apps have ironically turned the mobile business into a billion-dollar market & made Apple quite wealthy, while companies like RIM struggle to get any finished products to consumers, while squandering hundreds of millions per month on silly acquisitions & "bad" patent-deals, do to BAD management! Today, RIM just fell under $1B of cash-flow (working capital = spending money). Plus, the two CEO's went from being worth $1.6B each, to now being worth approx. = $556 million for Lazaridis & $493 million for Basillie = PATHETIC!!! These 2 idiots are obviously planning to go down with the ship since the only consistent thing they've done in the past 5 years is promise anyone that'll listen, that everything is fine & RIM is still on top!! LOL & SMH

chrisbedford
chrisbedford

"those ... who like a real keyboard know the BB ... cannot be beaten ..." WRONG!! If like me you have above average size fingers the BB keyboard is a nightmare of frustration - wrong characters, prematurely sent messages, annoying popping up of the address book at inopportune moments - and after two years I still find myself ringing the wrong Steve because the right one's name appears in the window while the wrong one's number is highlighted below - nuh-uh, BB rates a very low useability factor for me.

chrisbedford
chrisbedford

"If people were serious about business they would own a Blackberry!" is true BB fanboi speak. Like Jason said in his article, the iOS and Android phones are easier to use (not just the menus you have to navigate through; if you are anywhere short of a sports star in terms of coordination, that stupid little trackpad thingy is seriously difficult to control) and the iPhone and Galaxy et al give you every bit as much email as you need. With more control over when or if you receive mail - I found being able to "do" mail from my BB very convenient, for about a day, but then the constant beeping for every stupid spam mail or backup notification just got too annoying to handle so I switched it off and didn't receive mail on the damn thing at all. With an iPhone you have the option to receive mail when you want it, or not at all. Which means your battery lasts much longer too. There is nothing more "businesslike" about Blackberry, except their terminology and the fact that you can install their software on a server inside the network, giving the Lusers out there the false impression that the BB is somehow "better". It isn't, it's just different. If you left and wish you hadn't, examine your motivations. Could be you are an obsessive-compulsive who needs to let go of your email dependancy.

PineappleBob
PineappleBob

I run a BESx server and there is no surcharge from my carrier to get enterprise level service from a BES server on the BESx, so I am free as well, I merely pay my carrier for the service I need, just like an iPhone or Android. The funny thing is, BB carries a better data compression method and my data use on BB for all the same activities of an iPhone or Android will be significantly smaller. In time the carriers will start pushing for RIM's style of data compression. AT&T nearly broke when the iPhone hit and the constant demand of data from all the new iPhones crippled their data backhauls. There may be followers of RIM "blindly following", but there are also the same for iPhone/Apple, Android, etc. RIM will be fine.

PineappleBob
PineappleBob

You could also use BESx which is free AND there is no need for the "Enterprise" addition to your cellular plan as the carriers charged in the past. BESx was designed to be nearly 100% like BES, but did not require the "extra" data service of the carriers. That is what I use in my small firm and it is great.

alexisgarcia72
alexisgarcia72

In an Android device: if you update contact information in outlook, is updated in real time (i.e: less than a second) in the Android device?. If you add a calendar appointment in outlook, is added in the Android device in a second?. If you edit a task or note, is updated in the device inmediately?. I'm just asking... because this is not possible with my iPhone and yes, works like a charm in the Blackberry.

PineappleBob
PineappleBob

Thank you for the assaults and not fully reading my post. In fact I have written that I have used both iOS and Android. I have had Android phones, both the original Motorola Droid and the recent HTC Inspire. Both were quite wonderful, but terrible with battery and not as well wholly integrated in my experience. As for BBs, they have a help menu wherever you are on the device and it is no trouble finding anything you require. The OS6 and OS7 have a search feature that automatically starts to narrow your search to apps and options on the deice as well as looking to the net for what you might be after. I think you are the one who has not used a BB and are ranting about me not using the other platforms when in fact I have. I have also spent much time on WP7, which is darn good, and close to being where it should be. Has RIM dropped the ball recently? Sure, but which company has not? Previewing email is of no use to me, as I prefer to read the email when I have time to deal with it. If I am waiting on something important when it arrives I deal with it. My email on BB is much better than the iOS and Android that I have seen, but I do run BESx in my company and don't use BIS. I too have a lock screen on BB, and it works just fine. My son can use my BB as well as his Itouch, so I am not so sure what is so great about a 2 year old being able to use and iOS device. maybe the iOS is made for those who are not into tech and just want a toaster. My BB has many features and an environment of out-of-the box apps that a productive for me with almost no extra apps. Then again I have no use to watch movies on a cell phone! I'll watch movies in Blu-Ray on my flat screen at home with full surround with family and friends and enjoy some popcorn, as a group. I have no clue what you are talking about? Siri is a voice recognition software company purchased by Apple to give the phone and probably their next desktop OS voice control. Sort of like Dragon Naturally speaking for the PC from one hundred years ago. Siri is a voice control and psuedo AI built into the phone, wow, not important for me. I would rather deal with humans and ask someone where is a good place to eat, or where is the movie theater and such. Siri and the whole matter of cellphones becoming our number one companion is that we are losing our ability to have actual friends and interact as humans. It is sad to see kids in the same room texting rather than talking, but that is a different thread. I wish you could back up your statement that I am ignorant and that the irony will haunt me for years to come. I am quite up to speed and aware of most tech out there and am by no means ignorant, but that is your opinion and not fact. Please respond with facts and support of your claims, lest you be considered a troll or fanboy. But please re-read my original post to know that I have used Android, iOS, WebOS, Palm OS, Win Mobile, WP7, and some of the Nokia mobile OSes and have found, as I said that each should find what works for them, that BB works best for me and is extremely efficient. I would rather spend time with my family or cycling than playing with a cell phone. As for your comments on RIM and the Co-CEOs, all we know is that with all companies there are good and bad times. RIM has plenty of capital even if their stock value has dropped. Stock value merely represents what a bunch of wheeler dealers in a stock exchange *THINK* a company will do. RIM acquired TAT recently and has them working on GUI and such. Do you know who TAT is? Anyhow, sometimes in a business, which I presume you do not own or run one, you make moves or acquisitions that hurt you in the short term, but pay off handsomely in the long run. RIM's market share in emerging areas like India is very strong and growing. The fact they lose some in North America is only concerning to North America, yet the planet is very happy with the BB as well as other devices. How about that "some time" of my words haunting me, be monitored to see what RIM does and if ICS can do much for Android, which by the way is losing handset sales as well. No chance the current economy is hurting unnecessary purchases like the next almost release of an almost new device.

PineappleBob
PineappleBob

I do not have average hands or fingers, mine are actually larger than average and find the keyboards on the Bold series to be perfect. I had the problems you mention on Android and IOS, but the BB does not ever have that trouble for me. If the others work well for you, great, enjoy them. but for people to say BB is a goaner, is a wee bit ahead of reality, I am sure BB will be around for quite some time.

wdewey@cityofsalem.net
wdewey@cityofsalem.net

I didn't realize that BESx doesn't need the Enterprise Activiation. I personally thought the blackberry tax that ISP's charged is what really was killing a lot of RIM's business. When people supply their own phone they normally aren't willing to pay an extra $30 a month just to connect to the business email when there is a cheaper alternative. Bill

alexisgarcia72
alexisgarcia72

In a blackberry happens in less than a second, this is a real "real-time" sync, like no other device, but I can accept a minute for sync, my question is: with android and iphones, is the inbox the only folder in sync or calendar/notes/tasks/contacts/sent items synched as well (via 3G/EDGE/Wi-FI) - not usb cable? this is critical.

wdewey@cityofsalem.net
wdewey@cityofsalem.net

So I couldn't say that it's under a second, but if it takes upto a minute to update is that too long? Bill