Canadian Tire began issuing thousands of BlackBerry Q10 smartphones to corporate employees in Toronto on Monday after rolling out Z10 models weeks earlier.
The overwhelming majority of the company's 3,000 corporate users wanted the Q10 with its qwerty keyboard as a replacement for older Bold or Curve devices, said Eugene Roman, chief technology offer at Toronto-based Canadian Tire, in an interview. However, some are also asking for the Z10, with its touchscreen keyboard.
Canadian Tire bought the new devices for its employees, Roman said. The company isn't convinced that a Bring Your Own Device model, where workers buy their own smartphones to use at work, is secure enough. "BYOD is very interesting until the first security breach," Roman said. "I'm not a fan of BYOD. An email can send a virus into your core infrastructure. Right now, we think BYOD is interesting, but not ready for the main stream."
So far, hands down, the biggest value of the new Z10 and Q10 smartphones has been their long battery life, providing 10 to 12 hours on a single charge, Roman said. "With 10 to 12 hours of battery life, that's double of every other device we've tried," he said. "It's efficient on the network and still has good security. The battery life is the winner. I have a couple of iPhones, but I can't live on them."
Many workers are familiar with older BlackBerry smartphones and wanted the physical keyboard. Roman said he has used a BlackBerry Bold model for years and has been reluctant to replace it.
"I told them you'd have to pry the Bold from my cold dead hands, since it has served me extremely well, but the Q10 does it one better," he said. The Q10's 35 keys are each "just a shade bigger" than on the Bold "and I have big, fat thumbs."
Since Roman has a strong interest in following the quick-changing Canadian weather, he found he relies on the Q10's native weather app, which he has used for more than a full week, along with email and texting.
Canadian Tire also uses Balance, a dual-personality feature where work and personal data are kept in separate areas on the BlackBerry 10 operating system. If needed, an IT shop could wipe clean the work data from a lost or stolen device and leave the personal data intact. The company supports Balance on the Q10 and Z10 with a backend server running BlackBerry Enterprise Service 10.
"Balance is a good idea, and I started using it last week," Roman said. "It's quite interesting how it keeps your life simple. Everybody has a personal email, so my kids can send me messages there. I got insurance for my car and don't want that email going to my work email. So Balance makes things nice and clean. These smartphones are ports into the company."
Sign up for CIO Asia eNewsletters.