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2/1/2013
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Take BlackBerry 10 Seriously For Business

Too many people won't give BlackBerry 10 a fair chance because they're emotionally invested in other platforms, probably the iPhone. Those people are doing themselves and their companies a disservice. Observed dispassionately, BlackBerry 10 appears to be a compelling phone platform for business users, and if BlackBerry has earned anything over the years, it's the right to be taken seriously in meeting business needs.

Running a business intelligently means making intelligent decisions based on business needs, not personal prejudice. BlackBerry (née Research In Motion)'s biggest impediment to recovery is the tendency among humans to resort to prejudice. Observed dispassionately, BlackBerry 10 appears to be a compelling phone platform for business users.

Of course, we're still early in this process. All I've seen is demos on a webcast; I haven't even held a device in my hands and I certainly haven't given it the testing in a real-world environment that it would need in order to be considered for serious business use. But if BlackBerry has earned anything over the years, it's the right to be taken seriously in meeting business needs.

Several years ago, when users became enthralled with iPhones and began ditching their BlackBerries, it wasn't because the BlackBerry wasn't meeting their business needs. It was because the iPhone could plausibly do so and was so much more pleasant and fun to use. The business capabilities have been back-filled in the iPhone over the years since, but BlackBerry still has the strengths that gave it years of dominance pre-iPhone.

And now, with BB10, it plausibly has a new, surprising strength: productivity. Personally, I've never been all that fond of my iPhone. I always find simple tasks to be inconvenient and non-intuitive. BB10's interface has a design called BlackBerry Flow, which allows you to move between tasks easily with gestures. Once you learn the gestures you can do stuff quickly with only your thumb. See the video below:

That's just one reason why BlackBerry 10 should appeal to you for business use. Another is BlackBerry Balance, its separation of work and personal spaces on the phone. IT gets to manage apps and data in the work space and separate the work items from the personal items to whatever degree it wishes. IT can, for instance, prevent the user from copying data in the work space and pasting it into the personal space, as demonstrated in this video:

Finally, BlackBerry has raised the standard for base-level management security for mobile devices. It pretty much invented the MDM (Mobile Device Management) field with features like remote wipe. Apple's MDM APIs were a rip-off of the BlackBerry interfaces. But dozens of companies like SOTI, MobileIron and Apperian have emerged over the years to fill in the considerable gaps in mobile security left by MDM. These companies use a variety of techniques, including MAM (Mobile Application Management), that have come collectively to be called EMM (Enterprise Mobility Management).

One of the main points of EMM is to balance the needs of businesses to secure their assets with the needs and rights of users on their personal devices. BlackBerry is baking some of these techniques into its BES (BlackBerry Enterprise Service) 10 product. See this brochure for more on this approach. These features are not shipping yet; the company estimates Q2 2013.

Watching the BB10 rollout I was prepared to take them seriously, but I wasn't prepared to buy in. But now I'm seriously open to it. I'm up for a new phone in the next few months and I know now that I can't get one without giving BlackBerry 10 a fair shot. You should do the same.

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