Oh, the irony. IT shops that have stalwartly defended the BlackBerry platform despite business users' demand for iOS and other mobile platforms seem to be suddenly losing faith that Research in Motion will be around in a year. The fear is strong enough that Good Technology, one of the major mobile management vendors, today announced a rapid-conversion service for companies that want to get rid of BlackBerrys in six months or less.
Good claims that in the last few months, more and more enterprise customers have concluded that RIM's future is too bleak to continue to support. "Good's customers are skeptical about BlackBerry's future -- especially the sustainability of its infrastructure," says a Good spokeswoman. But Good's customers aren't alone in reaching this conclusion -- I and other observers also see this rising "time to give up on BlackBerry" sentiment.
Not only have users turned away from BlackBerrys -- in some markets, it's even fallen below Windows Phone in sales -- but the BlackBerry 10 and its BlackBerry Device Service management server, both due in spring 2013, are complete unknowns for IT. And a large number of IT shops have concluded they either won't live up to expectations or won't deliver any better security and management than iOS or Android.
RIM has done a lot of feel-good marketing on behalf of BlackBerry 10 this year, but little is actually known. And the disaster that was the BlackBerry PlayBook tablet -- which is based on the same core technology as BlackBerry 10 and its server -- leaves little room for faith.
Good is self-interested, of course, as organizations that dump BlackBerrys for iOS and Android would need more client licenses for Good's MDM (mobile device management) server. Still, it's a sea change in Good's years-long stance about BlackBerry, which was that its service complements BlackBerry for users who don't need the very high level of control afforded by RIM's current BES. Now the message is that BlackBerry simply won't be a factor. Good's main customers are conservative enterprises, so despite its self-preservation, its change of tone is significant.
I won't be surprised if other MDM leaders, such as MobileIron and Sybase, offer similar rapid-switch services.
Are organizations right to panic about BlackBerry's future? RIM certainly has its defenders, even if fewer in number. BlackBerry 10 could lead to a rising of the ashes for RIM. Or not.
What I suspect most businesses have concluded is that it's not worth waiting to find out, given that iOS is proven strong enough for most business use cases when coupled with appropriate management tools and that the Android platform looks set to offer equal, and perhaps even better, security. Why continue to wait for RIM to deliver?
Good sees enough businesses that have decided not to wait to offer a rapid-switch service. That's really bad news for RIM.
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