Australia isn’t exactly a “BlackBerry Nation” like other countries in the APAC region. You’re more than likely to see everyone using an iPhone. However, that doesn’t stop the BlackBerry culture.
Surprisingly, we have quite the many Australian users active in our forums. BlackBerry devices are still prominent in carrier stores and big box retailers.
Although, that hasn’t stopped the naysayers following popular North American anti-BlackBerry sentiments. Research firm Gartner has issued a report to businesses, claiming they need to devise a new mobile strategy within next few weeks to six months to avoid disaster.
Gartner analyst and author of the report, Ken Dulaney, says “at last report, [BlackBerry] had about $2.5 billion in cash, but [the latest] report says they are burning through it pretty quickly.”
Dulaney wrote in his report that he believes BlackBerry will have its enterprise segment acquired. He believes an acquisition would allow the time for clients to find an alternate solution.
Matthew Ball, BlackBerry Australia managing director, says the report is purely speculative.
“We recognise and respect external parties’ opinions on BlackBerry’s recent news. However, many of the conclusions by Gartner about the potential impact of a sale or other strategic alternatives are purely speculative.
“BlackBerry is restructuring and pursuing strategic alternatives to increase its focus on its core enterprise business,” said Ball.
“We remain steadfast in our mission to deliver the most secure and powerful mobile management solutions and smartphones to our customers. We are just as excited about our momentum here in Australia. More than 65% of our handheld base in the ANZ region has either upgraded or is migrating to BlackBerry Enterprise Service 10, which includes a mixture of blue-chip, government and private customers.”
BlackBerry recently reiterated its commitment to customers in an open letter, that has been featured in 30 publications in 9 countries. BlackBerry partners in Australia seem to be receptive of the open letter and suspect of the Gartner report.
Speaking to CRN, here’s what some Australian BlackBerry resellers and partners had to say:
Tim Fussell, founder of Sydney-based imei: “I think the advice from Gartner is likely to be very damaging to BlackBerry.
“My interpretation of what Gartner is saying is that all BlackBerry customers must drop the BlackBerry technology as BlackBerry will be out of business within six months.ADVERTISEMENT
“This seems to be pretty excessive as there is still a significant base of BlackBerry users that won’t disappear overnight.”
Fussell pointed out that “Gartner’s own numbers show that Blackberry still holds 24 percent market share”.
He conceded that this was “nowhere near where it used to be [but] it is still a pretty impressive position”.
“Gartner’s predictions of 9 percent market share by 2016 are pretty bold in a market like this where technology is evolving at such a rapid rate.
“I personally think the Z10 and Z30 are among the most impressive devices available in the market,” added Fussell.
Another major Australian BlackBerry reseller, Si Partners chief executive Brian Harris, was stern in his response to Gartner.
“It is very sad that companies like Gartner have opinions about other companies that are so far from the truth it is almost laughable.
“BlackBerry has a huge fan base in the enterprise industry and it will survive even if Gartner and other industry analysts try ignore the reality. CIOs, IT managers, IT administrators and system analysts know deep down that they are having the wool pulled over their eyes by the likes of Gartner,” he said.
Justin Roche from MSC Mobility called the Gartner report “a bold move”
“It is the first time I have seen Gartner come out and say move away from a technology. BlackBerry virtually invented the smartphone space, they were the catalyst for moving away from feature phones and SMS and integration into the corporate environment.”
However, he agreed BlackBerry had missed the boat as mobile buying patterns changed.
“Consumerisation came about because people decided to take back control of technology inside an organisation and that drove the uptake of iOS devices, and by extension, Android devices.”
“A CIO or CTO doesn’t want to come about and say, ‘we were hacked’. Without those stories, it is hard to get traction in the market with a security product.”
MSC Mobility has more than 40,000 devices under management. Roche said: “The large majority are iOS and we are seeing a large attrition where BlackBerry is being displaced.
“You can take the approach of putting your head in the sand and hope the magic mobile fairy will come along but in my experience that is a very dangerous approach to take. My feeling is Gartner had to take a call based on the attrition and they have done that based on the numbers.”
Meanwhile, ITtelligent Consulting Services director Rob Adelman told CRN he wasn’t sure whether Gartner’s warnings were accurate.
“I have been viewing Gartner for 16 years and a lot of what they have said is not what has eventuated. Maybe one day they will be right.”
However, Adelman conceded, “I think there is just no market for BlackBerry in Australia that I can see”.
ITtelligent was licensed to install BlackBerry servers, which once a “good margin” business but now offered less benefit, said Adelman.
He said BlackBerry Server played a role in the smartphone maker’s decline.
“BlackBerry used to charge an arm and a leg for a licence. When the iPhone came out, RIM said they would give away the software for free, but it was still an extra step that customers had to do and it was that extra step that stopped a lot of users going to BlackBerry.”
Additionally, some of these partners still believe there is a future for them with BlackBerry.
imei’s Tim Fussell said: “Our activity around BlackBerry is solid. Following the launch of BlackBerry 10, we have seen an increase in opportunities to upgrade infrastructure across client sites.
“BES 10 has continued to evolve and a lot of the issues that were present at launch have been ironed out. As a result several clients are seriously evaluating making the move.”
Fussell said BES 10 represented a competitive MDM tool for managing other platforms.
“A key component of this is the very effective container-based management solution for BYOD.
“The reasons why organisations purchased BlackBerry in the first place – namely security, data compression and ease of management – have not gone away, which is why we see the BlackBerry solution will continue to remain relevant in the enterprise,” added Fussell.
Si Partners’ Brian Harris said: “Si Partners has just had its best two quarters in a row thanks to BlackBerry and Secure Work Space. So who is actually failing here?”
He said BlackBerry’s $2.5 billion in the bank was also a sign of strength.
“The Enterprise Mobility Management solution BlackBerry now has for its customers is not only one of the best for security functionality, but has the support behind it.”
Harris added: “I agree the BlackBerry devices released have not done well. However this is not because the devices are bad; it’s because consumers are focused on what they want and not what their employers or businesses want or need to secure the environment.”