BlackBerry won’t quit. Before the word “smartphone” was even widely used, BlackBerry was the best choice for business people who wanted a mobile device that combined the Palm (remember those?) and cellphones. BlackBerry was the first to figure out how to make one great mobile device for work, and delivered better ones than Palm tried, too late, to get on the market.
Then, came iPhones and Android phones, and BlackBerry’s cache fell. People started using these devices to manage their personal lives, and in recent years, their professional ones as well. This launched the BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) trend, and changed the face of the workplace.
BlackBerry’s BYOD Revival
BYOD is helping to revive BlackBerry. After an initial struggle with IT staff and CIOs, BYOD is now part of many company’s guidelines on using personal devices at work. According to ZDNet, more than 60 percent of companies had BYOD policies in place by the end of 2013. These policies lay out acceptable uses for smartphones and tablets at work, the brands and models IT will support and a lot on security practices that IT can only hope employees follow.
Since BlackBerry was already in tune with workplaces, it created, along with several cloud providers, mobile device management (MDM) systems to protect workplace data. MDM ensures that company data doesn’t mingle with employees’ personal data. The best systems work with all mobile brands and operating systems, ending the conflict between employees whose devices aren’t on the A-List and harried BYOD policymakers.
BlackBerry’s Embrace of the App
BlackBerry is still in the mobile device market, which is strongly driven by apps. Although it offers about 130,000 of its own apps, the company opened itself up to the Android market for BlackBerry 10 phones. Although the company initially kept quiet about it, they released an upgrade released in January 2014 allowing users to directly download Android apps. There were some initial challenges with an open ecosystem, BlackBerry’s Vice President for Platforms Chris Smith told PC. “That’s held us back in certain markets.”
However, the ecosystem appears to be working enough for Amazon to agree to give owners of BlackBerry 10.3 devices access to 240,000 apps it has available online. Although the numbers don’t match the volume offered by Google and Apple, it includes many familiar ones that consumers love. This deal can only support the current revival BlackBerry is enjoying.
Smartphones don’t last for more than a few years. When it’s time to buy a new one, current Android uses could be more willing to look at a BlackBerry if they know they can continue to enjoy the same apps.
Through this deal, Amazon gets more customers visiting its App Store site instead of the Apple Store or Google Marketplace. These same customers also could decide to purchase Amazon Prime membership or other products while they are there. It also could be another front on Amazon’s war against Apple, where the two have fought over e-publishing pricing. Just a year ago, Apple was convicted in a Federal court of conspiring to raise the price of e-books.
The deal also happens to fall just as Amazon’s first-ever smartphone was released to reviewers. The phone, called Fire, doesn’t appear to be a BlackBerry competitor, but one packaged for consumer use (it features 3D viewing). Could it tempt some iPhone users? “Amazon wants you to purchase things,” says TechRadar, “and it’s come up with a way to do so from your pocket.” What could be sweeter than announcing two new deals in one week?