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BlackBerry 10 operating system attempts consumer/enterprise balancing act

James Furbush

The long-awaited BlackBerry 10 operating system offers plenty of new consumer-focused features, but its future in the enterprise remains unclear.

The company -- formerly known as Research in Motion, now as simply BlackBerry -- largely downplayed any advantages its new OS and management platform will offer IT departments struggling with enterprise mobility. With BlackBerry 10, the company hasn’t offered enterprise customers a solid reason to buy new devices or migrate to BlackBerry Enterprise Service (BES) 10, said Bob Egan, founder of the Sepharim Group, an enterprise mobile consulting firm based in Falmouth, Mass.

“Companies are aging off the platform and not looking back,” he said. “In the world of BYOD you have to speak to consumers, but unlike Apple or Android, most of RIM’s revenues come from BES infrastructure. How do you not speak to that? How do you not give companies a reason to stick with you?”

With the BlackBerry 10 operating system, BES 10 and a new company name, BlackBerry aims to close the book on

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a difficult stretch during which it released a highly criticized tablet, laid off thousands of employees, replaced its co-CEOs and took too much time to release new products.

Some IT pros seem optimistic about the direction BlackBerry is taking.

One of the new BB10 features that caught the attention of IT is the screen-sharing capabilities in BlackBerry Messenger (BBM). It could be a huge benefit for supporting help desk queries, said Ernie Huber, director of process and systems for global supply management at an industrial manufacturer based in New Britain, Conn.  

“It is a cool feature that has a lot of other potential for sharing a presentation you are giving or collaborating on a document,” Huber said.

This new version of BBM also lets users make free phone and video calls over the Internet. 

Other BB10 features include:

  • BlackBerry Balance, which offers secure containers for work and personal apps and data;
  • BlackBerry Hub, which integrates all messaging systems and social networks into a central repository;
  • BlackBerry Remember, a file system for saving and organizing important documents, which also offers deep integration with Microsoft Outlook and Evernote.

BlackBerry 10 operating system debuts with 70,000 apps

The availability of popular business apps from SAP, Cisco Systems Inc., Citrix Systems Inc., Box, Evernote Corp., Dropbox and others on the BlackBerry 10 operating system is a crucial starting point, as is the addition of consumer-friendly apps such as Skype, Yelp, Twitter, Spotify and Foursquare.

More on the BlackBerry 10 operating system

BlackBerry Z10 hands-on preview

BlackBerry Q10 hands-on preview

BlackBerry made It easier for developers to build apps for the new OS by compiling a utility program that converts Android apps into BlackBerry 10 apps, a company spokesperson said. Approximately 40% of the 70,000 apps available for the new OS in the BlackBerry World app store are modified from Android.

The other advantages the BlackBerry 10 operating system could have over other mobile platforms is that it is much more secure than Google’s Android OS and offers IT more management capabilities than Apple’s iOS, said Scott Snyder, founder of Mobiquity Inc., a Waltham, Mass.-based enterprise mobile strategy company.

“It has a lot of security policies and encryption built into the root of the OS, which should appeal to the most security-minded organizations,” he said.


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