As a Tech Blogger, I comment on Technology. I look at what is happening in the market, what are the trends, who is doing what to whom and which company is unveiling what. Based on these, I piece together a global view of the technology world that we live in.
With that in mind, I see an interesting development happening in the Enterprise world. A development that is so unthinkable that it might just happen. I look back at various puzzle pieces over the past year and I ask the question: could we see a BlackBerry and Google phone ?
Here is why:
One of the companies that many have written off is BlackBerry. We often hear in tech world of the imminent death of once-giant of the mobile industry, but I am of a different opinion. I see a new sparkle in BlackBerry. Under the new management of John Chen, I see a more vocal and aggressive BlackBerry then ever before.I see a company that has shifted from over a Billion Dollar cash burn rate to being cash neutral in 2015 and return to profitability in 2016. I see a BlackBerry who had to fight to stay alive and make some hard cuts in order to ensure a future. I see a BlackBerry that has returned to its roots based in Enterprise Secure Messaging.
There are 4 Puzzle Pieces that happened in the last year that could lead to the AndroidBerry Phone:
Android has to evolve to remain relevant –
Android has an identity problem. While Google is a household name, the Android operating system so many “skins” as each mobile manufacturer customises Android for their own usage. This flexibility is now a problem for Google.
Samsung seems to be making small but deliberate and strategic steps to moving to its own Operating System Tizen which currently run on its NX cameras, Galaxy Gear smart watches and Gear Fit devices. Samsung phones and tablets have TouchWiz interface which is Samsung’s “skin” that resides on top of Android. This skin is so Samsung customised that if Samsung was to dump Android and replace the underlying operating system with Tizen as long as the android apps still work, most users would not be able to tell the difference. Samsung could potentially be a real Google Android rival. [this is another prediction – Samsung Tizen OS rivals everyone for domination on mobile and powers the Internet of Things – you read it here first]
This fact is not lost on Google.
So Google is reacting. You might have noticed that when you power on your Android device, it now says Powered by Android. This is new. It would seem that this is now a requirement by Google for any OEM that has Google services such as Gmail, Google Maps, Google Drive, Chrome etc., to have the “Powered by Android” displayed on bootup.
Something seems to have upset Google who wants Android to have its own recognition and identity beyond the various operator “skins”.
The success of Android is rooted in its ease of development and hence its adoption by the developer community . However, this is also its problem. Due to it popularity and ease of development, it has become a target for hackers/ malware writer and information thieves. This has left the corporate world with a problem: the world’s popular mobile devices, run an operating system that is not secure and vulnerable to attacks.
Puzzle Piece 1 – a big problem for Android in the Enterprise and BYOD world.
BlackBerry Passport –
The reaction to the BlackBerry Passport has been very interesting. Even the tech nay-sayers are no longer blindly slating BlackBerry but are paying attention. There are many positive comments (and even slight apologies too) such as this one from Richard Goodwin of Know Your Mobile who writes that
“I didn’t want to like this handset. I had A LOT of preconceptions about the way it looked, switching back to a physical keyboard, and having to use BB10 for a week or more for the purpose of this review. Like a lot of people, I’d made my mind up about the Passport without even using it –– and this was wrong.” he goes on “The battery is excellent, ditto call quality, and there’s more than enough power inside to ensure everything operates in a silky smooth manner. I really enjoyed the improvements BlackBerry has made to the camera, and the screen, as we’ve already established, is just marvellous. The only real issue BlackBerry has on its hands is the BB10 ecosystem – it pales in comparison to Android and iOS. ” and end of “If, however, you want a powerful piece of kit that is excellent at multitasking, has a gorgeous keyboard, brilliant battery, and an excellent notifications hub, as well as a growing selection of applications and market-leading security, then you could do A LOT worse than the BlackBerry Passport. “
Others share the same sentiments where the common three trends are about having misconceptions about the device before handling it , about how good the messaging and security is and about the Android eco-system.
Puzzle Piece 2 – a change in sentiment about BlackBerry and a reaffirmation about BlackBerry’s Enterprise ability.
Secusmart Acquisition –
Despite the downturn in the company, BlackBerry has acquired Secusmart, the company that specialises in “high-security voice and data encryption and anti-eavesdropping solutions for government organizations, enterprises and telecommunications service providers in Germany and internationally.”
After the alleged hacking of Chancellor Angela Merkel by the US, Germany’s Federal Office for Information Security for classified communications for the country’s highest public officials migrated everyone onto BlackBerry 10 devices. SecuSUITE for BlackBerry® 10 is the basis for the BlackBerry’s Balance which separates work apps and communications from personal apps and personal communications. This means that no rouge software can intercept or leak confidential info.
BlackBerry customers include all G7 governments, 16 of the G20 governments, 10 out of 10 of the largest global enterprises in each of the pharmaceutical, legal and automotive industries, and the five largest oil and gas companies. BlackBerry has more security certifications than any other vendor and is the only mobility solution to receive “Full Operational Capability” (FOC) approval to run on U.S. Department of Defence networks.
So one thing BlackBerry does and does well is secure messaging.
Puzzle Piece 3 – BlackBerry’s unwavering pedigree in security
Apple & IBM Exclusive Enterprise Deal –
In July 2015, Apple has announced their exclusive deal with IBM to sell iOS devices (iPhones and iPads) into the IBM Enterprise customers base. One of the items that makes up the deal is the following:
Mobile platform: The IBM MobileFirst Platform for iOS will deliver the services required for an end-to-end enterprise capability, from analytics, workflow and cloud storage, to fleet-scale device management, security and integration. Enhanced mobile management includes a private app catalog, data and transaction security services, and productivity suite for all IBM MobileFirst for iOS solutions. In addition to on-premise software solutions, all these services will be available on Bluemix—IBM’s development platform on the IBM Cloud Marketplace.
Essentially, this is the exclusive marriage of two mammoth companies to deliver: Curated Apps, Storage, Security and Management to the Enterprise.
So who does this Apple & IBM deal effect ?
Is has somewhat of an affect on Microsoft who has a vested interest in seeing their tablets and mobile phone continue to be sold into corporates, however their turf is generally protected to an extend as the majority of users still use Windows as their Desktop Operating system.
It has an affect on BlackBerry as they are the current leader in the Mobile Device Management (MDM) space and has expanded its solution to Enterprise Mobility Management (EMM). This goes beyond simply locking the device and wiping it, but speak to the management of the device’s apps and content too. The Apple and IBM deal could have an impact if their solution will manage non-iOS devices too.
But the most effected is Android who has a security gap in being trusted in the Enterprise. Google would not like to be shut out of this environment with the banning of Android phones and tablets in the Enterprise which is locked to an exclusive Apple domain in this deal.
Puzzle Piece 4 – exclusive deals are shutting Enterprise deals.
The Google BlackBerry Phone –
Putting these puzzle pieces together, it might be feasible to think that if Google would like to have a real stab at the Enterprise it has to close its security gap. To do that, why not partner with the company that is best at that – BlackBerry. Google and BlackBerry know that the Enterprise customers are the ones who want long term stability and if Apple and IBM have their way, then the future doesn’t look good for both Android and BlackBerry. The saying goes “My enemy’s enemy is my friend”.
BlackBerry’s Mobile Device Management and Enterprise Mobility Management already manages Android devices. BlackBerry’s Blend software already works seamlessly on Android tablets connecting BlackBerry devices with Android with no security leakage at all. Therefore, is it such a great leap to think that a secure BlackBerry Android operating system be available with built in VPN Blend functionality and the ability to separate Work and Play with Integrated device management capabilities?
One thing we know for sure – in the mobile world never count anyone out so intelligently-speaking one would have to make an allowance that perhaps a Google BlackBerry phone might not seem to far fetched after all – especially if a company like Lenovo is back in the “perhaps buying BlackBerry” rumor table. Again.