Stacy Crook, a research director for mobile enterprise research at IDC, says that while this isn't a game-changer on its own, it does send important signals to the market.
"The fact that BES is compatible with [Android for Work] is a good thing but many of their competitors are also supporting AfW, so I'm not sure it gives them a lot of specific competitive advantage," she says. "However, it does demonstrate that Blackberry is pursuing a cross-platform EMM strategy in earnest, which is critical in order to hold on to existing customers as well as future growth."
A bigger potential ace up Blackberry's sleeve, however, is a lightweight operating system called QNX (pronounced CUE-nix), which has quietly conquered the world of embedded technology and seems poised to become the foundation of large parts of the Internet of Things. QNX, whose origins stretch back to 1982, was acquired by Research In Motion in 2010. It's been particularly popular lately in the automotive industry, with Blackberry boasting earlier this year at CES that QNX now has 40 automotive partners, including the U.S. big three, Hunda, Acura, BMW, Porsche, Toyota and Volkswagen.
Frank Gillett, a vice president and principal analyst at Forrester Research, said that the big question is whether QNX is enough to carry Blackberry's foundering hardware operation, or if it's more likely that it'll have to be spun off into its own entity.
"There's not a lot of interdependency between QNX and the original Blackberry business, so the question is whether Blackberry creates enough synergy to keep those things stuck together or whether QNX gets pulled out of that," he said.
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