Balance is RIMs take on mobile device virtualization that we have seen from others such as Nokia and VMWare. It has the potential to be a great win for the enterprise; however, there are problems with the overall strategy that warrant discussion. First, balance requires BES10 and RIM could not confirm how many BES email hosting providers are planning to upgrade to BES10 or even support BES10 so if you are not an enterprise that wants to use BB Balance you may be out of luck until the major BES hosting providers catch up. Furthermore, for your enterprise to leverage Balance an upgrade to BES10 is required and all users have to use the new BB10 devices, which could be a deal killer depending on cost and the other BYOD initiatives.
The real question for the enterprise, "Is this too little too late?"
Last year, RIM released BlackBerry Fusion, which enabled an enterprise that was mostly blackberry to manage Android and iOS devices from the same console, which morphed into BES 10. Fusion was RIM's answer to all the MDM vendors making money off managing RIM devices and a way to stem the bleeding of enterprise's moving to Android and iOS. We reviewed Mobile Fusion in our BYOD story in December 2012 and found it isn't a great MDM solution by itself. It would be an okay solution for a heavy RIM shop to support a small amount of iOS and Android users and wasn't the best option available. The core problem with the solution was the lack of a unified console (which has been addressed in BES10, we are told, but have not verified) and that it did not have any features that the other MDM vendors didn't do. In other words, it was a me-too solution that just helped a BB organization deal with the pesky iOS and Android devices.
And that's the crux, unless you are a dedicated hardcore RIM shop -- the ability to manage iOS and Android devices with BES10 causes a problem for enterprise users looking to adopt BB 10 devices. Why would you? Since a user has to physically exchange their existing BB device to get the new features, and that same enterprise can now support iOS and Android, the user will have the option to upgrade to an iOS or Android device. With the experience being completely different on BB10 devices even hardcore BB users will need to relearn the entire device, a major detractor to just sticking with RIM.
Given that consumerization has led this trend to date, we don't think the new enterprise features -- which are really the only enhancements to the device as all of the consumer enhancements are just copycat functions of iOS and Android -- are going to be enough for the end user to stick with BB when facing the decision to change. BES10 is too little too late for most enterprises as the value proposition just isn't strong enough to overcome all the benefits of the other platforms for end users and RIM didn't do anything to reduce the costs and complexity associated with a BB infrastructure.