BlackBerry customers' loyalty hinges on BES 10 multi-OS support

BlackBerry Enterprise Service 10 will manage iOS and Android devices, but that might not be enough to convince BlackBerry customers to stay loyal.

NEW YORK -- The multi-operating system support in BES 10 brings a flicker of hope to BlackBerry customers, but many are still disappointed with the company's slim app store and lack of competitive features.

BlackBerry changed its name from Research in Motion in January, when it launched the BlackBerry 10 (BB10) OS, two new phones and BlackBerry Enterprise Service (BES) 10 for mobile device management. Despite this attempted rebirth, IT administrators at the BlackBerry Experience Forum here this week said the company is just too late to the game.

We have definitely tested your patience.

Richard Piasentin, BlackBerry vice president

BlackBerry's Web browser hasn't been on par with other devices, the hardware has been too slow, and it was difficult to move between apps, said Jason Floyd, chief technology officer at Dallas-based Source Inc. His company moved off BlackBerry a few years ago and now consists of 80% Android and 20% iOS users.

"There's not a single thing BlackBerry can do that I can't do already on my Android," Floyd said. "The [BB10] camera is the most interesting, revolutionary thing. Everything else you could get in another product."

BlackBerry has struggled recently in part because its product timeline has been slower than those of Apple, Inc. and Google Inc. Plus, customers said the BlackBerry World app store piggybacks off apps that have long been available from those competitors. BlackBerry touts 70,000 apps, but a lot of them aren't the "fun" apps such as Netflix that users really want, said one mobile engineer from a large banking organization.

"[BlackBerry was] the top notch for a couple of years, and they just stopped innovating," he said. "They need apps that sell, or no one is going to buy."

Customers also said BlackBerry has been too focused on the secure email server side and too tied to hardware over the past few years. Company execs acknowledged their missteps.

"We have definitely tested your patience," BlackBerry vice president Richard Piasentin said in the forum's keynote. "If it weren’t for the loyalty of you, we wouldn’t still be here today."

BES 10 entices BlackBerry customers

BES 10, which for the first time manages iOS and Android devices, could be the reward loyal customers have been waiting for. Some said the new version is a reason to keep supporting BlackBerry in the enterprise.

The management console interface is very similar to BES 5, making it easy for admins to pick up, and migrating to BES 10 doesn't require any interaction from the user. Tom Cheng, a systems engineer for a financial services company, currently uses BES 5 and Good Technology for mobile device management (MDM) but wants to replace both with BES 10.

"The control piece in BES 10 is the biggest thing," Cheng said. "It's saying, 'Hey, it's ok if you have an iPhone.'"

Juan Perez, an IT systems administrator at Atos, said his company has considered Good for MDM but could move to BES 10 because of the multi-OS support. Investigating BES 10 at the forum was his last-ditch effort to convince the business to stay with BlackBerry.

"They're really close to abandoning ship," Parez said.

Still, some customers have already left Blackberry because of the cost and complexity of BES, Source Inc.'s Floyd added. Unlike other MDM products, BES 4 and 5 required an Exchange server to run, which added cost and was just one more thing for IT to manage, he said.

For others, the move to BES 10 is inevitable.

Mobile engineers from the large banking organization, which has about 40,000 company-owned BlackBerry users, said their company's tight security regulations prevent them from providing anything other than BlackBerry. If they distributed iPhones, for instance, IT would have to remove all the "good stuff" that people buy an iPhone for, such as iTunes, one admin said.

"BlackBerry 10 is unavoidable for us as long as we're supporting BlackBerry devices," he said. However, "if they had a choice, our employees would probably choose an iPhone."

Some BB10 features intrigue, others disappoint

A lot of features introduced in BB10 -- auto-complete texting, video chatting and new photo editing options -- are capabilities the iPhone and other devices have had for years. Still, some IT admins said they liked the ability to install apps remotely and a feature that lets users share data and pictures by touching phones.

Perez and other customers said the best new feature is Balance, which provides secure containers -- called Spaces -- that separate work and personal assets. IT can ensure security by pushing corporate apps only to the Workspace on users' devices, and it's easy for users to set up their corporate email; IT simply sends them a one-time activation password.

If BlackBerry stays competitive with upcoming versions and facilitates bring your own device (BYOD), customers said they will be more likely to stay with the company.

"It's a consumer market now," Floyd said. "If BlackBerry can make a BYOD play, it will grow."

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What are your company's BlackBerry plans?
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We have been a Blackberry company for about 3-4 years but are currently looking at other systems. The one thing that keeps us from dropping BB completely is the new BES that supports BB10, iOS, and Android.
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Using a variety of options including Blackberry, although the share of Blackberry users is dropping.
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We have been patiently waiting and now find out a requirement of BES is Microsoft Active Directory. We are not a Microsoft shop so this might be the last straw unless they give us an option that does not have this requirement.
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As the headline says, too little too late, we stuggled for years before making the deciaion to move to Iphones. We would have probably stuck with Blackberry if they hadn't been such a nightmare to manage for so long. We are well aware of the security loopholes and would have fought to stick with what we had but we had no argument. We ended up having to rethink our entire mobile IT stratagy and planning for the next couple of years.
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BlackBerry is outdated. My company has already replaced them at the corporate level and is now dstributing iPhone to the field. Too many network failures, BES is too expensive and the Blackberries themselves are priced out of the market.
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The world moved on whilst Blackberry woke up and finally got something moving. What they have in BB10 and Z10 so far is a big improvement from where they were but not compared with what is already out there from almost everyone else.
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Will there be a BES Express 10?
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Sorry BlackBerry.
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Too little, too late.
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Blackberry will battle with Microsoft for 3rd place in the smartphone market but unless they can come up with real innovation in the same fashion that Apple did to save their company then I think BlackBerry will become a smaller and smaller niche player
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Given a choice, all employees would definitely move away from BlackBerry and there is no user interest for BlackBerry 10. Better security and control from an IT admin point of view is one of the few remaining advantages.
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Moved to iOS
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The President & the VP prefer the Iphone, is a matter of time in our company to migrate
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As a business tool BlackBerry is hard to beat; but include the social apps etc into the equation and it s a whole different ballgame. We want to stay with BB but it has to be able to cope with the future demands of our users - even when they dont know what they want (which is most of the time).
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Blackberry works as a business tool, its secure. We dont want to a device just because there are a million apps available (90% of them are rubbish anyway).
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BES 10 is the last thing i will look at for BB - it needs to meet the needs of customers or we are done with them for good
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whats a blackberry?
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Can't wait for my Z10!!!
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watch out iphone and blackberry, Samsung enterprise
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Blackberry bold 9900 is the worse. i just have blackberry with TMobile for the international rate.
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Just wish they had done this a year ago.
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Moved from Blackberry to Apple, it's pie in the sky!
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BB is needed for our entprise
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I find this will be bold the bb10 has multi-interface +, it can give you more as a superior bus tool as well
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In our line of business, security comes first - trendy doesn't register.
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Please give some music apps. Video streaming from youtube is miserable
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BB is very expensive, but not the best-smart phones have more option then BB and you don't need to pay licence for use...
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Cost plans not favourable
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Too littlle too late. Browser slow. None existing useful apps.
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They Back in the Game. The devices are on par and the Enterprise security second to none.
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Blackberry still leads the pack when it comes to security and functionality for the business. I think BB10 and beyond should focus on improving hardware performance, the browser experience and opening BBM to other chat apps.
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As we have invested in a substantial estate of Blackberry’s having the ability to manage the other devices from “one location” is a very real bonus. The ability to migrate you licences from existing version to BB10 at no cost is even better.
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Unless some revolutinery difference comes from BB 10, chances of making it to the mark with the current cost of launch are very bleak.
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Best approach to innovate is to ask customer, what they expect out of the future BB versions. Copying others or bringing 1 new thing out of 100 can't help.
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