Q&A

BlackBerry admits to lame mobile browser; takes on BYOD

Alyssa Wood

NEW YORK -- BlackBerry customers have long hoped for an improved user experience and more management control for IT. With a new mobile browser in BlackBerry 10 and multi-operating system support in BlackBerry Enterprise Service 10, the company could provide just that.

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Jeff Holleran

Attendees at this week's BlackBerry Experience Forum also got a peek at Balance, which provides segregated work and personal spaces on one device.

In this Q&A, Jeff Holleran, Blackberry's senior director of enterprise product management, explains how the company hopes Balance and other features will make up for some of the company's biggest mistakes.

Why has BlackBerry struggled recently and what needed to change?

Jeff Holleran: One, we didn't have the device of choice. We didn't have the strong browser and some of the newer social applications. Two, we were late to the game with some of the newer network technologies for the carriers to range our devices as fully as they could have. We've solved those issues. We're launching devices that are full LTE-capable. We have tens of thousands of applications in the app store and a following in the developer community. Those key things are the building blocks for us to overcome the challenges that we have had in the past.

What reason do customers have to stay with BlackBerry?

Holleran: The number one complaint from users was our browser, so with BB10 we made sure we had the best mobile browser in the world. We're more compatible with things like HTML 5 -- for folks who are building new applications off that -- and all the latest desktop operating systems out there. You can get to any website -- whether you're running Flash, Javascript, HTML 5 -- and it's an incredible browser experience.

We hear a lot about consumerization and BYOD[bring your own device]. The other side of BYOD is managing corporate-owned devices and enabling the personal side of the device. With Balance, we developed a user experience that is second to none when it comes to the ability of the user to have their personal life protected from the enterprise and the enterprise to put their data on the device, protected from any accidental data leakage.

What makes BB10 different from other platforms that can do the same thing?

Holleran: Lots of people can put a container or a virtual system on a device, but Balance has full separation of the data and the user experience. What we've done is provide hybrid applications and the ability to display information out of both sides of the device. So there's one experience for email, one experience for messaging, and, most importantly for someone who's busy, there's one calendar. Putting multiple calendars on a device does nothing to help the end user manage their life; we provide one calendar that gives you the full view of your day.

Why should customers migrate to BES 10?

Holleran: It is a single platform that will manage everything -- BlackBerry to iOS. With BB10 and our devices, we built it out so that it starts with Active Sync directly and then we add value. So as you connect it to a BES 10 server, you get the ability to enroll and provision Balance on the device. You also get the ability to rout behind the firewall. When you think about [other] mobile solutions, many require you to run a virtual private network, and VPNs are not cheap. That kind of infrastructure gets extremely costly rapidly.

Why did you add support for iOS and Android management with BES 10?

Holleran: Customer demand; purely because customers came to us and said they have end users who were insisting [on having] the ability to connect these devices, but they didn't feel comfortable. They want to know they can manage them.

What would make iOS or Android customers choose BES when there are other mobile device management products available?

Holleran: What many companies are finding is that they have users that have iPhones, but once they get a BlackBerry 10 in their hands, they really like knowing that their data is separated but unified at the right times. They're selecting BES 10 so they can provide that level of experience regardless of the device users bring in-house.

We built this to be seamless for the end users. As a user gets a BlackBerry Z10 device, they can simply move over to it, activate it against the BES 10 server and be up and running. We actually support both devices in parallel, so it's a very easy experience for the end user.

How does BlackBerry plan to deal with BYOD?

Holleran: Running things from a multi-platform management perspective is now engrained into the root of what we do. It's front and center to us. As we build new services, we'll build them to be platform-independent for management purposes.


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