Mobile phone pioneer BlackBerry has hit a rough patch. Some might say its downfall has been years in the making, but its official demise may have been spelled out in a recent chain of events.
- Shortly after revealing its new Z30 smartphone, BlackBerry announced a plan to layoff 40 percent or 4,500 of its employees.
- To close out the month of September, BlackBerry reported a huge second quarter loss of $965 million, citing sluggish Z10 sales as the source of its revenue woes.
- Days later, the company announced an agreement to be acquired by Canadian holding firm Fairfax Financial for $4.7 billion.
These three events are the primary fuel of a recent Gartner report recommending that enterprises stop using BlackBerry products and adopt a backup plan. Gartner analyst Ken Dulaney, who authored the report, hinted that while organizations don’t necessarily have to abandon ship immediately, staying aboard is risky business. He used three to six months as a tentative timetable for averting disaster.
BlackBerry Alternatives for Business Users
For years, organizations of all sizes have depended on BlackBerry technology to drive their on-the-go operations. Its array of handsets are used for voice, text, and email communications with clients and team members, while its enterprise servers still sync data between mobile devices, physical servers, and desktop workstations. Giving up on your core technology and the partner that supplies it can be a tough thing to do, but existing BlackBerry users can take solace in the fact that there are quite a few viable alternatives.
Apple – iOS
Like any fall from grace, BlackBerry is to blame for most of its own troubles. With that said, Apple had a hand in that demise as well. While BlackBerry focused on pleasing the Qwerty keyboard-loving business troop, Apple targeted consumers – the most precious layer in the smartphone goldmine. Leveraging the iPhone and iPad, Apple capitalized on the consumer’s craving for smart devices that made content consumption seamless, while simplifying the everyday aspects of life. Apple did all this and offered something for the enterprise in the process.
The iPad has its retina display, and the new iPhone has its fingerprint identification sensor, but both Apple devices are driven by the same engine under their respective hoods. iOS keeps business in mind by enabling organizations to streamline mobile device management, simplify custom app deployment, and centralize the distribution of corporate resources. Features like these are helping iOS devices become the standard for applications such as data processing, troubleshooting, and remote management from retail to law enforcement.
Google – Android
Google has also made life in the smartphone business hectic for BlackBerry with Android. Arguably the most flexible mobile operating system around, Android gives organizations the option to use a broad range of devices, and convenient access to an app ecosystem that challenges iOS every step of the way. In addition to its huge pool of apps, Google’s OS has baked-in goodness that allows companies to run multiple user accounts on a single device, manage complex app infrastructures, and actually tweak the mobile experience. Android is open source at the root, so with a little programming expertise, it’s possible to make your gadgets do some cool stuff they don’t do out of the box.
Microsoft – Windows Phone
Microsoft only has a small presence in the smartphone space, but is enjoying a steady climb up the latter. Although Windows Phone, the operating system that runs in devices made by Nokia and HTC, has been criticized for its lack of apps, it does support some long-time business staples. For instance, in addition to running popular Office apps like Word and PowerPoint, it syncs seamlessly with Exchange Server, Sharepoint, and Windows Azure. Lately, Microsoft has added enhanced device management, networking, and security features to make Windows Phone a more reliable force in BYOD environments.
Things are looking bleak, but BlackBerry isn’t throwing in the towel yet. In denouncing the Gartner report, the company ensured customers that it is merely restructuring and still dedicated to providing the best mobile solutions. Make of that what you will. BlackBerry may only have a few beeps before someone pulls the plug, but at least there are other, potentially better options availalbe.