BES12: The future of BlackBerry?
By Keith Liu March 2, 2015
- BES12 was released last November with a new, two-tier subscription pricing model
- Key to recovery is BlackBerry's ability to transform itself into enterprise software player
AT the Mobile World Congress a year ago, BlackBerry chief executive officer (CEO) John Chen introduced BlackBerry Enterprise Service 12 (BES12), a significant upgrade to its BES10 enterprise mobility management software.
Not only does BES12 support competing platforms like iOS, Android and Windows, it also brings together previous versions of BlackBerry’s platforms under one single infrastructure – a major relief for enterprise customers who had deployed both the recent BlackBerry 10 handsets, as well as legacy BlackBerry 7 devices.
BES12 finally became available in November last year, and it arrived with a new, two-tier subscription pricing model – Silver and Gold – with add-on pricing for enhanced support, encrypted messaging, VPN (virtual private network) access and BlackBerry Blend, that allows users to access their corporate data from any device.
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The cost per device per year starts from US$23 for a Silver subscription, all the way up to US$110 per device per year with the bells and whistles included in a Gold subscription.
In an e-mail interview with Digital News Asia (DNA), IDC’s vice president of Asia Pacific Client Devices, Bryan Ma noted that BlackBerry has a clear advantage in this space.
“One of the key assets that BlackBerry is banking on is indeed its legacy enterprise customer base. It doesn’t matter if employees have already started using other devices like iPhones; BES12 has the ability to manage other operating systems, all while touting its reputation for being extremely secure, as well as being able to manage any lingering BlackBerry devices if there are any,” Ma said.
The key to the company’s recovery, he added, “is the ability to transform itself into an enterprise software player.”
Arguably, that’s why the future success of BlackBerry hinges on the take-up of BES12. At an investor briefing that coincided with the release of BES12, Chen (pic) said software revenue is expected to double in FY16 to US$500 million, and that a Fortune 10 client had plans to use BES12 to manage non-BlackBerry devices.
It also brought Samsung Electronics on board as a partner reseller of BES12, a tie-up that has led to reports in January this year that the South Korean smartphone giant is looking to acquire or make a significant investment in BlackBerry, which both companies have denied.
That doesn’t mean BlackBerry is giving up on the hardware front. Even though the company’s market share fell almost 70% in 2014 from a year ago, according to IDC’s latest data on mobile operating systems, the research firm noted that the BlackBerry’s CEO “anticipates 10 million units will be shipped in 2015, returning the company to profitability and marking a 72% increase over the 5.7 million units shipped in 2014.”
10 million can be seen as a decent target, primarily driven by BlackBerry’s latest devices, the Passport and Classic.
But as Ma observed, “Yes, there are of course still going to be diehards clinging to BlackBerry devices, but the reality is that those are just a niche now. The good thing is that BlackBerry recognises that and is no longer trying to be the mass-market consumer phenomenon that it was in the past.”
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