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Posted on November 7th, 2010 by Davey Winder

Android and Apple iOS will not beat BlackBerry

BlackBerry Torch 9800

Fanboys had better sit down before continuing, as I have some bad news for you, unless your particular tech obsession of choice is CrackBerry or Windows flavoured. Neither Apple iOS nor Android will beat BlackBerry or Microsoft as a mobile business platform any time soon, according to the latest market research.

But more of that later, first let’s start with some confusing jargon. A newly published study conducted by Plantronics reinforces what I already know, namely that more and more people are working outside of the traditional office environment these days.

Well, actually, that’s being a little disingenuous as in reality it confused me greatly by suggesting that people increasingly work in ‘transitional spaces’ and, to be honest, I had no idea what that really meant.  Delving a little deeper, it would appear that it means ‘public spaces used while in transit’ according to Plantronics. Translated into normal-speak I think what the survey was actually trying to say is that people are doing more work while on the bus, train or plane. And in hotel rooms, airport lounges or coffee shops for that matter. Anywhere outside of the office, other than the home environment in other words.

This should come as no great surprise, given that the likes of IDC were predicting only last year that one third of the world’s workforce (about 1.2 billion people if you prefer) would be mobile by 2013. But I was still somewhat taken aback by the Plantronics numbers, which suggested that a majority (55.2%) spend some 20 percent of their working week doing their work in these transitional spaces.

Of course, this particular survey, coming as it did from a manufacturer of audio headsets, was geared towards convincing me that the most important factor to emerge from this change in working patterns is noise. Specifically background noise that impacts upon concentration, productivity and business success as a result of the distraction. I mean, how dare people talk in a coffee shop when I’m trying to work, have they no consideration? Actually, most of the office workers I speak to reckon that it’s quieter in a coffee shop anyway, so I’m not sure what all the fuss is about.

Leaving the noise issue behind, and concentrating more on the inevitable march towards mobility in the workforce, another IDC survey caught my eye, this one being the catchily entitled ‘2010 EMEA Enterprise Mobility Survey’ which questioned 1,240 end users in 13 countries about the latest workforce mobility trends within their companies.

Two things jumped out at me from this survey:

1. Consumerisation of IT is not an issue, and the so-called trend of ‘bring your own smartphone into work’ just doesn’t ring true to the majority of people. Indeed, IDC reckons the response was almost unanimous in predicting an increase in company-paid mobility, as it calls it. Or ‘I should bloody well think so’ hardware provision as I call it. The type of hardware was the really interesting bit, as respondents to the survey predict a “heterogeneous world in terms of business devices” with smartphones seeing the largest growth at the expense of laptops. Tablets and netbooks figure to a lesser extent, but will still outnumber laptops in the office of the future it would seem. I can’t say I’m totally convinced, despite being a fan of netbooks and smartphones. Sure I carry my iPhone everywhere, but I try not to write long reports using it. My netbook is another matter, but I’m not perhaps your typical small business user and my needs are fairly low-resource shall we say. I’m happy knocking out a few thousand words or doing some online research on the netbook, but it’s not a true mobile office in the way that your average laptop can be said to be. As for tablets, well let’s not even go there as I’m still recovering from the last time I dared suggest an iPad wasn’t the ideal business tool. And talking of getting into trouble with the Apple fans…

2. When it comes to smartphones for business, Apple has a long way to go. The IDC survey suggests that BlackBerry is the preferred smartphone platform of choice amongst ‘business decision makers’ with Microsoft in second place ahead of Symbian. Apple iOS was fourth and Android fifth. What’s more, IDC doesn’t see any great change at the very top with BlackBerry predicted to still be number one in three years time. The only real change will be the decline of Symbian, as Apple iOS and Android eat into business market share.

So do you run a business and use iOS or Android over BlackBerry or Windows? If so, please let us know why. If you don’t we’d still like to hear from you, just tell us why not.

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39 Responses to “ Android and Apple iOS will not beat BlackBerry ”

  1. big_D Says:
    November 7th, 2010 at 4:30 pm

    I haven’t seen a new BlackBerry in business for ages. Most of the BBs I’ve seen were old – pre-OS upgrade old, nothing bought in the last 3-4 years.

    Those that had had BBs were switching to iPhone and re-tasking their BES servers for “something useful” and letting Exchange take the strain.

    That said, I played with a Windows Phone 7 device at the weekend and I’m very tempted to get that, instead of an iPhone as my new company phone – I already have an iPhone 3GS, but the WP7 feels much nicer. BB is not an option for me – not that I’ve seen a handset I’d actually want anyway.

  2. W. Anderson Says:
    November 7th, 2010 at 6:03 pm

    The gist of your article indicating the retention of Blackberry for corporate mobile communications conflicts directly with and is contradicted by report this week that Dell is dumping Blackberry for all of it’s 25000 employees to run their own mobile phones on Windows Mobile and soon Android.

    I was also informed recently by follow members of IBM Partnerworld program that IBM will likely drop RIM for Android-based Smart phones that the company can program exactly to their business software/administration specifications.

    How soon do you think it will be before Oracle, Fujitsu, Boeing and many other large international enterprises and organizations, not to mention governments will join the fray in molding (customizing) mobile technology to their specific needs, something not possible from Rim?

  3. Alan Robertson Says:
    November 7th, 2010 at 9:04 pm

    Interesting article, Davey. Although most people that I know of who have had their smartphones supplied by their work have Blackberries, there are a significant number (many of the public sector) where their employer won’t provide them with a smartphone, but will allow them to connect their own. In most cases IME these end up being iPhones. Personally I’m an Android man, but they don’t do much to help their case by not providing proper enterprise-grade encryption in the OS – for example all Android phones will be blocked from accessing the NHS email service from next month unless users purchase extra software (TouchDown by Nitrodesk). The hardware is perfectly capable, but Google just don’t seem to see the need to provide proper on-device encryption. Disappointing really as I think it is a much better platform in other ways!

  4. Walt French Says:
    November 7th, 2010 at 9:50 pm

    “…smartphones for … ‘business decision makers’ with Microsoft in second place…”

    Yes, 3% of Q3 smartphone sales were WinPhone6.x devices. Devices that Microsoft acknowledges are 3 years behind the times in terms of capability, ease of use, productivity, etc. Now we know who’s buying them!

    Trouble with surveys like these, as Jobs even mentioned: nobody anticipates what they’ll REALLY want in times of rapid transition; the want cars to be like buggies with faster horses.

    Microsoft has certainly done a great job over the years in providing tools for enterprise IT, but methinks that WinPhone7 is going to have to justify itself as the right tool for the “tens” (2010–2019). Version 1.0 doesn’t inspire me to believe it’ll function as much other than a place-holder for the famous “Microsoft’s version 3 is finally right” syndrome. Trouble is, by then both Google and Apple will have shown that they understand the enterprise, and have customized app and support tools.

  5. Daniel Cardenas Says:
    November 7th, 2010 at 11:46 pm

    Dude you haven’t read the news. Blackberry has already been beaten.;jsessionid=VB41LFdeeHdJDGv2Rb7jzg**.ecappj01,2817,2371865,00.asp

  6. PatrickEB Says:
    November 8th, 2010 at 2:43 am

    My wife uses a Blackberry (with a real QWERTY keyboard) for her business.

    She receives and writes a lot of e-mails.

    She is blisteringly quick and faster than you could be on a virtual keyboard. Being able to feel the keys (and the key design on the Blackberry if a stroke of genius) means she can move her fingers to the next position very, very quickly using the tactile sense the keys provide.

    However,for writing reports of any length (I don’t mean writing a sentence or two) means you need a real keyboard on a real device like a netbook etc.

    She has a Lenovo X200 – again, fantastic designed keyboards with a great feel.

    You can’t go past properly designed hardware with the expert user in mind.

  7. AdamC Says:
    November 8th, 2010 at 4:18 am

    Hello I have news for you the guesswork on RIM stil remains at the top of the food chain is wrong. Being mobile doesn’t mean the blackberries are the chosen ones. It’s the ease of use so the winner will be the one with the best user experience and RIM is not the one as for WD7 it is not in the picture yet and there is a chance it may still lose out to iOS.

  8. CandyCampbell Says:
    November 8th, 2010 at 4:36 am

    Hilarious Blackberry and Windows fan boys think they are winning the smartphone battle. Hope you all invest heavily in this fantasy. It will be fun to know you’ll loose your investments.

  9. thomas Says:
    November 8th, 2010 at 8:32 am

    loose? I think you meant lose. Not typing on a virtual keyboard by any chance?

  10. Lomskij Says:
    November 8th, 2010 at 8:47 am

    Blackberries in our office. Lots of users have WM/Apple/Android as a personal phone, however if you need to handle hundreds of emails a day, Blackberry is still unsurpassed. With real qwerty keyboard, that is – we’ve tried Blackberry Storm when it was out and found it absolutely rubbish. Fanboys screaming about the “best user experience” miss the point completely – it’s not about flashy touch screen and facebook integration, it’s about how effective is your phone as a work tool. It’s like comparing Porsche with some Defender 4×4 – yeah, the former is much more fun to drive.

  11. milliganp Says:
    November 8th, 2010 at 9:57 am

    @Daniel Cardenas, both the reports you quote are based on CONSUMER purchases and exclude business. Lots of people I know have a Blackberry for work and an iPhone for personal use. Also one of the reasons for Android overtaking iPhone is that iPhone users are locked into a a lower performance network than Droid users.
    I’m not sure about Blackberry’s long term success, but lets base the debate on meaningful figures.

  12. seb Says:
    November 8th, 2010 at 10:06 am

    We just rejected iphones in favour of bolds. Good battery life, simple sync (not to itune or google apps, but outlook), keyboard peerless email and the ability to go more than eight hours away from a plug socket swung it. I have a Desire as a personal phone, but it’s hopeless as a real world business tool.

  13. Steve Cassidy Says:
    November 8th, 2010 at 11:41 am

    It seems to me that (after tickling the fanboys) two key points remain. One is that Exchange access for Smartphones, on iOS and Android at the moment, makes a massive difference to the “use your personal smartphone for work” boundary. Before that it was impossible; now, suddenly, it’s easy. The other reason companies don’t use Blackberries is that the international roaming is just simply annoying (I agree, incidentally, that *new* Blackberries in businesses are very rare indeed)

  14. Carl Says:
    November 8th, 2010 at 11:56 am

    I believe the main mistake of this article is that business use and personal use will remain separated. I tend to believe that ‘bring your own smartphone’ will be implemented in more and more companies. It is exactly the tendency that people work more outside the office that they want to have ONE device that is ready for personal and business use.

    So, you get a company phone that gives you a certain amount of personal use per month (like a company car). Most people will want an iPhone or Android. These two have the major market share, so most people will go for one of those, simple as that.

    If the only real advantage of a Blackberry is having a real keyboard, make no mistake. HTC, Samsung or even Google will issue a Business Android with a snap-on keyboard, bluetooth keyboard or whatever. Don’t know if Apple would go so far, but count on them to come up with something sexy and business-oriented if they feel there is a market for it.

  15. Davey Winder Says:
    November 8th, 2010 at 12:02 pm

    A contact of mine summed the next few years up quite nicely, with regards to the BlackBerry business effect, when he commented: “all the corporate investment in the infrastructure and services is not going to be quickly unravelled”

  16. james016 Says:
    November 8th, 2010 at 12:15 pm

    One good thing is about the Blackberrys is their Smart Dial feature. In AD we only put users’ 4 digit extension in rather than the whole number. In the BBs you can set up smart dialling to dial a number on your phone system and it would automatically dial the extension in question. I’ve not found anything similar on the iPhone though there may be an app for it somewhere.

    We only publish the 4 digit extension so staff would get used to using them as we installed an IP Phone system and our hotels abroad have IP Phones as well. Rather than dialling the whole number.

  17. Danny Child Says:
    November 8th, 2010 at 1:00 pm

    One of our requirements in (boo! hiss!) banking is that we can securely wipe REMOTELY any device that’s lost. Not possible on Apple, and I can’t see our users allowing us to do that on a personal device that might be found down the back of the sofa tomorrow. So, company BlackBerrys for us. They just work. Leave the bells and whistles behind.

  18. Mat Bailie Says:
    November 8th, 2010 at 1:15 pm

    It’s interesting to note that the comments counter to this article place Consumer experience higher than Business considerations.

    By which I mean; Fanboys should rtfa.

  19. David Wright Says:
    November 8th, 2010 at 1:17 pm

    @Lomskij A Defender is a lot more fun to drive!! :D

    Seriously though, most of the BlackBerry users I’ve met couldn’t wait to trade in their Bolds for “something usable”. The biggest complaint was the horrible keypad – too small and cramped to want to type anything more than a couple of words.

    The UI on the old Bolds was so bad that most hardly ever used them for anything – a couple would read e-mails on the go, then telephone their replies to their secretaries, because it was quicker and easier than trying to type a reply on the BB. When they got their iPhones, they were much more communicative.

    My old boss had a BlackBerry Bold for e-mail, a Nokia 6000 series for telephone calls and a Palm Tungsten for keeping his appointments in. Now he is down to an iPhone for e-mail and appointments and the Nokia for calls.

    I tried one of the new Windows Phone 7 devices at the weekend, very nice indeed. Seriously thinking of chopping my iPhone in for one…

  20. David Wright Says:
    November 8th, 2010 at 1:24 pm

    @DannyChild – using the Apple Corporate Configuration tool, you can remote wipe iPhones; something that has been around for a long time, it was old when we deployed iPhones over a year ago. You can also use the in-built wipe function in Exchange Server Active Sync.

    The iPhone also supports AES 256-bit encryption.

    Go to page 9 of it explains how to wipe using Exchange.

  21. Steve Says:
    November 8th, 2010 at 1:33 pm

    Android (OHA) vs Apple vs RIM:

  22. Bob Slydell Says:
    November 8th, 2010 at 1:46 pm

    Way to throw in the Vista7 crap. No mention from the intro to the very end. I cannot remember the last time i say someone with a Windows phone. Why? Because they are the old model of mobile computing. As phone hacking becomes more prevalent, i can promise you that Windows will be at the top of the list for hackable phone OSes with it IE8 engine and WM6 base (yeah, a lot of the base is still there). MS can’t secure anything. If you get a Windows phone, get ready for a slaughter of corporate infiltration.

  23. Bob Slydell Says:
    November 8th, 2010 at 1:47 pm

    Oh yeah… were you paid to throw in the Vista7 crap? It sure seems like it. Blackberry Crackberry…. uhhhh Android Apple….. uhhhh oh yeah please note i am proping up Windows here too!

  24. Darkharedlord Says:
    November 8th, 2010 at 1:51 pm

    I have android 2.2 on my HTC hero. For exchange access to work I have to have a handset password and authorise other security features such as remote wipe etc..

  25. Davey Winder Says:
    November 8th, 2010 at 1:56 pm

    @Bob Take a chill pill and a return to the real world, then when you have calmed back down try again. What’s with all the ‘Vista7 crap’ references? Did you even read the article?

  26. Steve Says:
    November 8th, 2010 at 2:05 pm

    @Carl HTC Desire Z, or Milestone 2 (aka Droid 2) when it gets here.

    @ Mat Bailie would love to rtfa, but there’s not link to the actual survey just 2 “conclusions”, including one mentioning: ‘bring your own smartphone into work’, which is what I do…

  27. Davey Winder Says:
    November 8th, 2010 at 2:22 pm

    @Steve There is no link because there is no free survey to link to. IDC, like other analyst outfits, makes a living by selling these things.

  28. Nicomo Says:
    November 8th, 2010 at 2:37 pm

    Blackberrys are way out in front here and I believe they will no doubt maintain the top slot for at least another year – but I do believe the Android machines will eventually take over – on price and on functionality – Apple will never reduce prices on their latest phone and I doubt that companies or employees want last years model – so apple is out here as a bonus toy a gift to take home

  29. dagnammit Says:
    November 8th, 2010 at 3:15 pm

    steve – nice one.

  30. james016 Says:
    November 8th, 2010 at 3:35 pm

    One thing that goes against Blackberry/O2 is that our BES server is soon to be unsupported (v4.1) If we want the upgrade to v5 it will cost £500 for the software plus all the hassle of installing it. We have been told it is a complex procedure.

  31. Grego001 Says:
    November 8th, 2010 at 4:20 pm

    One thing not in doubt is carrier network utilisation. For every iPhone, Android or WM phone that is lit up, 3 BlackBerrys can be put on! This was testing done sending and receiving the same emails and viewing the same websites. Who will the carriers back?

  32. Paul Ockenden Says:
    November 8th, 2010 at 7:10 pm

    One of the big problems currently hurting Android is the various levels of OS completeness (e.g. some have access to the Market, others don’t), and *extremely* variable quality. Very good phones at the top end, but some absolute dogs at the lower end. At least the other smartphone platforms offer much better consistency.

    Addressing some other comments in this thread:

    @Grego001: It’s the data frugality of BlackBerry that really appeals to the networks. They are much more constrained on bandwidth than they let on, and will be for some time to come.

    @james016: Check our BES Express. Chances are it’ll do everything you need, and it’s free. Also operates on a lower monthly tariff (BIS rather than BES), so you’ll end up saving a packet.

    @David Wright: Are you serious? A Bold has just about the best keyboard of any smartphone. See the typing test I published in the RWC Mobile & Wireless column a few months back. Sure, it’s small, but the individual angle on each key means that you need real farmers fingers (or rather, thumbs) before it becomes unusable. There’s certainly nothing currently on the market that can touch it in terms of typing productivity.

  33. Paul Ockenden Says:
    November 8th, 2010 at 7:11 pm

    @james016 – that should obviously read “check out” rather than “check our”.

  34. David Wright Says:
    November 9th, 2010 at 7:39 am

    I tried a Bold, but I couldn’t get on with it. My old htc Touch Pro had a better keyboard – if I’m going to have to have a physical keyboard on the device, then I’ll take the Touch Pro over the Bold any day – although for sending an SMS etc. I’d use the touch keyboard.

    And yes, our users hated their Bolds most carried Nokias for telephoning and rarely used the Bold, other than to read e-mails. I think we had one user who actually used it to type emails.

    I also found it very odd, with the Bold, that the numeric keypad – probably the most used keys on a phone, are not obvious or easy to use.

    Maybe it had something to do with the version – we had the 8300, which we replaced with the iPhone. The user interface was appauling and user hostile would be a good description, compared to a Nokia/Smybian, Windows Mobile, iPhone or Android…

  35. Paul Ockenden Says:
    November 9th, 2010 at 12:11 pm

    @David Wright: The 8300 isn’t a Bold, it’s a Curve. Chalk and Cheese as far as the keyboard is concerned.

  36. Iain Eckersall Says:
    November 9th, 2010 at 1:35 pm

    Comment 4 refers to the famous “Microsoft’s version 3 is finally right”. Can this criticism not be levelled at the iphone – the original was woefully technically inferior to what else was available at the time (no copy and paste, no 3G, 2MP camera, no multitasking). Apple had the ability to make the iphone 4 back then, but chose to drip improvements to maximise revenues. That’s why I don’t want an iphone!

  37. Jason Moody Says:
    November 15th, 2010 at 11:04 pm

    I run a number of businesses and rely heavily on my phone as I spend most of the day on the road. I was seduced 12 months by the hype and bought an Iphone. Its that bad for business use that it now sits in a draw whilst I have dug out a 3 year old htc phone to use.

    The super duper hi res screen doesn’t count for much when the iphone battery gives out around 3 in the afternoon (my daughters Blackberry lasts a day and a half with similar usage, BUT she also leaves her wifi and bluetooth turned on permanantly, I daren’t use mine as it reduced the battery life to around 6 hours), you cant slot a new battery in, and all of our company vehicles are fitted with usb charging units that will charge any phone on the market except an Iphone.

    The signal strength it pulls in is around half that of my daughters blackberry, indeed on a recent trip we set up a test and both tried to download as many pages as possible, my daughter managed 75 with her Blackberry, my Iphone managed 14, the rest of the time the signal strength was too low for a 3g signal and on 2g the speed of the Iphone renders it unusable.

    Anyone who has trouble typing on a Bold keyboard is going to have more trouble with the useless onscreen Iphone keyboard.

    The Iphone is the first phone in 5 years I have owned that won’t accept Business cards meaning when the office forwards a contact to me I have to manually type it in.

    The Iphone is a fabulous toy, what it isn’t is a serious phone suitable for someone trying to use it whilst running their business.

  38. Paul Says:
    November 23rd, 2010 at 5:53 pm

    When the iPhone and Android catches up with the Blackberry Policies (like Windows Active Directory group policies) then they will be ready for deployment within a business environment.

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