There was a time when Research in Motion's BlackBerry dominated the business market - one of the first smartphones to offer push e-mail and web browsing services, the BlackBerry allowed businessmen and women to carry their work in their pocket. Even if you were away from your computer, you could still access important documents and e-mails. However, as time went on and smartphones became cheaper, focus shifted to the consumer market. Consumer phones began to offer the same push e-mail services, and many began using their personal cellphone for business. RiM tried to keep up, but the BlackBerry OS began to feel clunky and unintuitive when compared to iOS and Android.
Back in 2012, RiM announced that it was going to begin re-focusing on its business customers and, with Wednesday's announcement of BlackBerry 10, many are wondering if the company can, once again, offer businesses something that no other phone can. BlackBerry has always offered a level of security that many businesses felt was worth investing in. Even if the phones were annoying and cumbersome, the fact that BlackBerry encrypted e-mails meant that company secrets were less likely to leak out.
BlackBerry 10 continues that dedication to security. Back in November, the company announced that their phone had received an FIPS 140-2 Security Certification, allowing government agencies to use BlackBerry 10 devices and its web-based, management console Enterprise. Apple, meanwhile, languishes on the 'Validation in Process' list. As BlackBerry can boast that all communications to and from their devices will be encrypted, security-conscious businesses and agencies may begin adopting the new phone.
However, even if a few businesses begin to trickle back to BlackBerry, they won't make up for the huge losses that BlackBerry experienced. So, despite saying it would re-focus on business clients, BlackBerry was still understandably eyeing the consumer market with envy. With that market in mind, the company announced that their phone would be launched with a Blackberry 10 App Store, which will reportedly offer over 70,000 applications. That isn't anywhere near the amount of apps that iOS and Android users have access to, but it is a start towards marketing this phone to the average consumer. And there may be some benefit to that.
After all, no one wants to carry two phones around with them, so offering security to businesses and an intuitive, entertaining experience to consumers might make the transition back to BlackBerry a bit easier. The company also announced a new service called Balance, which effectively separates the information and applications managed by a business from the rest of the user's information. The company that manages the phone cannot access personal, oftentimes private, information, and sensitive business information cannot be accessed by personal applications.
Clearly, BlackBerry wants to make sure that employees actually enjoying using their phones. But consumers do not jump from one smartphone to another very easily - the iPhone is still very well loved, and there are a few great smartphones running Android. However, if they can get businesses on board by offering the support and security that Google and Apple have not, people will use the phone. And that seems to be the main goal - just getting people to play with the phone so that they see that the BlackBerry 10 is better.
BlackBerry will probably never lead the pack like they did in the early 2000's, but they are taking steps in the right direction. As more businesses adopt the phone, more people will use it. The more that people use it, the more they will recommend it to others. BlackBerry, then, needs to at least offer all of the same features as Android and iOS in an operating environment that people enjoy using. If they can do that, and properly market themselves to businesses, then there might be a light at the end of the tunnel for this struggling company. Still, competing against offerings from Apple, Google, and Microsoft will undoubtedly be an uphill battle.