BlackBerry's dramatic fall in the enterprise has left CIOs scrambling to pick a new mobile platform provider. Will it be Apple? Samsung? Or Microsoft? Or it will be all of the above.
"The entire landscape has shifted in a very short time," says Ojas Rege, vice president of strategy at mobile device management (MDM) vendor MobileIron, "and the key lesson is that it will continue to shift. When consumers call the shots, technologies can come and go rapidly."
It wasn't so long ago when CIOs looked to BlackBerry, then called RIM, as a safe bet to build their mobile strategy. BlackBerry-only shops sprouted up across the country. Then came the iPhone, and the start of BlackBerry's troubles. A steady stream of companies has been leaving BlackBerry for a while now -- but lately there's been a rush.
"Many companies who weren't sure of BlackBerry's future were willing to kick the can down the road," says CEO John Marshall at AirWatch, an MDM vendor. "That changed with BlackBerry's announcement to steeply reduce its workforce, and [it] really became the nail in the coffin that forced IT decision makers to shift to other platforms."
All of AirWatch's customers are making the move away from BlackBerry, and Marshall says he's received an "overwhelming" number of requests from prospective customers looking to get off BlackBerry.
Migration From BlackBerry: Opportunity for Vendors and Savings for IT
This mass migration is a big opportunity for MDM, because MDM products tend to manage multiple devices and provide companies with flexibility. Both AirWatch and MobileIron are coming out with service offerings for migrating off BlackBerry and onto multi-platform support.
It's this flexibility that will serve CIOs in the long run, MDM vendors say, as the days of supporting a single platform come to an end. For CIOs, there is a silver lining: Multi-platform support sans BlackBerry might be cheaper.
"BlackBerry doesn't receive APIs from OEMs to provide more comprehensive levels of security," Marshall says. "From a cost perspective, most MDM providers charge less than BlackBerry for services, so, in many cases, companies will save money by migrating from BlackBerry, and they will no longer need to pay for both an MDM provider and the BES."
BlackBerry aside, each mobile platform has its share of upsides and downsides for the enterprise.