SalesForce has M.C. Hammer. Intel has Will.I.Am. And now BlackBerry has Alicia Keys. Obviously, the Canadians are going to great lengths to establish BlackBerry as a contemporary, cool brand, especially now it is also in the business of selling video, music and TV series. With the brand new BlackBerry 10 operating system introduced and two accompanying handsets, the first reviews praise the user interface - which is much closer to the Windows 8 Modern UI than to those of iOS and Android - but express many concerns about the limited availability of apps (even after Alex Saunders’ heroic attempt to mobilize developers, one wonders how that could even fail).
On the other hand, for BlackBerry a big apps catalogue might just be a bit overrated. Winning the hearts of the consumers in a head-on confrontation with iOS and Android may be a sympathetic quest, but it won't be much more successful than the charge of the light brigade.
Instead, BlackBerry would be perfectly equipped to lead the new wave that we recently introduced as Bring Your Office Device: company-supplied mobile devices that are perfect for business use, but turn out to be a lot of fun at home as well.
Think about it: just as Windows Phone 8, BlackBerry 10 is optimized to be managed in a corporate context, so that information and applications are under control and safe (still BlackBerry’s forte where it does not need to prove anything). But at the same time, switching business and consumer roles is a matter of a simple swiping gesture, and suddenly you find – for a change – that your corporate device is also very suitable to do your thing with video, music and Angry Birds.
I recently learned from a French electronics retailer that equipped their sales staff with tablets to support them in their client-facing activities in the stores. Although the pilot was considered a success, one of the drawbacks was the need to collect and store the tablets at the end of the day and make them available the next morning again (the secure storage had to be opened and locked, people came in late, keys were missing). Now they are seriously considering to make the tablets the personal property of the employee: they will be responsible for their office device, can take it home and use it for private purposes as well. It offloads the company from having to keep the devices and also will help the employees to familiarize themselves with the tablet, making its use more effective.
For this Bring Your Office Device scenario to work, three requirements need to be met: 1) The facilities to manage and secure the device at the corporate level must be elaborate and mature 2) it must be easy to switch between worker and consumer roles (with both working environments strictly separated: in the case of BlackBerry 10 you cannot even cut & paste text between them) and 3) the consumer experience must be at least at par with the industry leaders.
In this case, the consumer experience follows the business experience, so miss Keys still might have some time to get that BlackBerry catalogue populated with more apps, songs and movies. Keep on Fallin’ or On Fire? Only time will tell.
* Of course, many companies will prefer focusing on the ‘classic’ BYOD scenarios. See our latest Capgemini Consulting Research about Bring Your Own Device.