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BlackBerry is laser-focused on the enterprise with BES10

Matt Hamblen | May 9, 2014
After encountering problems last year selling its newest smartphones, BlackBerry has shifted to a stronger focus on the enterprise, especially through distribution of its BlackBerry Enterprise Service 10 mobility management client software.

Dulaney also praised BlackBerry CEO John Chen, who was hired last November after a failed bid to take the company private led to the departure of previous CEO Thorsten Heins and other executives.

"Chen has been given a supreme challenge at BlackBerry and he is an effective manager," Dulaney said. "If anyone can fix BlackBerry, he can. But the challenges are large."

Other analysts were less charitable.

BlackBerry's increased focus on enterprise customers is welcome, "but is something they should have done years ago," said Patrick Moorhead, an analyst at Moor Insights & Strategy. "They continue to lose customers, just at a slower rate. To survive, they need to quickly establish themselves as the preferred cross-platform mobile device management solution."

Jack Gold, an analyst at J. Gold Associates, said future versions of BES with added capabilities stand to keep customers interested in migrating to BlackBerry or staying put, although it isn't clear whether BES would be a company's exclusive choice or just one of several EMM software products they use.

"BES10 is a viable platform, and BlackBerry is making it very cost-attractive to upgrade by matching competitors' pricing," Gold said. "Overall, I think BlackBerry is making the right competitive moves, but what isn't clear yet is how many companies are upgrading to BES10 for keeps or just kicking the tires."

Carolina Milanesi, chief of research for Kantar WorldPanel ComTech, was the most pessimistic. "I still struggle to see how BlackBerry can turn things around," she said. "The issues seem to be all the same. They say they want to focus on enterprise, but not from a device perspective. The EMM space is very, very competitive and organizations are looking for committed, experienced vendors that can work across platforms and devices.

"There is no question that BlackBerry understands enterprises and they can even offer much of what is needed, but I am just not sure they can do it in a competitive or differentiated way," she said.

BlackBerry issues its next quarterly earnings report on June 19. The stock was trading Thursday on the Nasdaq at $7.37 per share mid-day and reached as high as $16.16 in the past year.


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