BlackBerry Partners: Forget The 'Cool Factor,' Remember The Enterprise


BlackBerry Tuesday said its BlackBerry Enterprise Service 10 mobile device management software will be offered through distributor Tech Data.

The pact with Tech Data follows Monday's news that the company will go private under a $4.7 billion deal with Fairfax Financial Holdings.

The onetime leader in mobile device hardware has experienced a downward spiral over the past few years, complete with decreasing earnings, flopped product releases, and companywide layoffs.

According to the company's partners, BlackBerry has failed to retain its "cool" factor in the face of competitors Apple and Samsung, even though its products have never lacked in quality.

[Related: How To Manage Apple Devices]

Michael Wieser, chief mobility officer at solution provider Breakthrough Technology Group, Morganville, N.J., said the company's ability to focus on the enterprise will be the key to its success.

"I think they are going to hunker down and try to solidify their core base in enterprise," Wieser said. "It's all about retention at this point."

BES 10 is supported by multiple operating systems including Apple iOS and Google Android, a move that makes the mobile solution more channel-friendly and hints at the Waterloo, Ontario, company's realization that its cash flow cannot depend on hardware.

"They have always been a key player in the enterprise and government space," said Rick Jordan, director of sales and strategic alliances at Toronto, Ontario-based solution provider Tenet Computer Group. "They left enterprise and government and started chasing after the consumer market," Jordan added.

History has shown that BlackBerry's pursuit of the consumer market has not been a successs, a reason Jordan believes the company is
attempting to return to "what they have always done best."

"We are very strong in the government space. It was because of a solution we offered that many organizations would buy more BlackBerrys," Jordan said. "They are going to have to lean on their partners. We are the ones with feet on the streets."

Jordan reiterated BlackBerry has always had great intellectual property and fantastic hardware but has not always been successful in getting it into users' hands. The security features offered by BES 10, Jordan said, "cannot be ignored."

In the midst of BlackBerry instability, Jordan said he has faith the company will "hone in on the channel" and focus on the enterprise. Whether the focus becomes more on software, hardware or a combination is still up for speculation, he said.

"This has the potential to be a Cinderella story," Jordan said. "I hope it is."

PUBLISHED SEPT. 24, 2013