To make Balance or these advanced policies work, users must be connected to a BES server, which in most cases means an enterprise buys the server to locate behind the firewall.
For this review, BlackBerry set up a trial account giving me access to a BES server to test out Balance. After I set it up on the Q10 (which is not a trivial process), I was able to swipe a finger down the center of the screen to access the personal or work container for data. If a rule had been created that kept one type of file in a specific container, I was told by the device. For example, when I was on the work side, I tried to open a pictures icon, and got this message: "You are currently in the work space. Please switch to the personal space to see any personal files."
Various other choices can be made, with oversight from IT. One choice allowed in my trial was the ability to lock down the workspace access after a period lasting from 1 to 45 minutes. Another choice was to allow personal apps to use work networks, such as work Wi-Fi. (Some employers don't want workers playing games over the company Wi-Fi in order to keep the bandwidth available for company business.) A password to unlock the device each time it is powered on was encouraged; IT shops could conceivably require this and other security steps.
My brief examination of Balance shows that it works well, but I am left wondering if IT shops will need plenty of hands-on time with workers to explain Balance, as well as the value to workers -- and to the company -- of having the work/personal separation.
BlackBerry's Q10 is filled with many creative features but its ultimate success will come down to one basic question: Do you want a qwerty device?
I don't think the era of the qwerty is over, since I have met users who prefer a physical keyboard. But they are in the definite minority.
What Q10 users will get with the new smartphone is a distinctive-looking device with a vivid display, an easy-to-use physical keyboard and touchscreen interface and an inventive approach to user security and management. In the most optimistic scenario, BlackBerry's Q10 sales will out-do its Z10 sales, which BlackBerry claims have gone well, critics notwithstanding.
If BlackBerry can continue to attract developers to build more apps for BlackBerry World and if BlackBerry can propel its Messenger app into a fuller social networking experience, then there is some basis for believing BlackBerry has a solid long-term future, well above its current 5% global smartphone market share.
Just about everything -- hardware to software -- in the Q10 (and the Z10) is good, but the market is crowded with great products that will make BlackBerry's marketing more vital than ever.
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