Dell VP, Good Technology CEO Grim on BlackBerry at MobileCon 2013
Dell and Good Technology shared some insights on BlackBerry at MobileCon 2013. Not surprisingly, the outlook was grim, and though the end may be near for BlackBerry, both companies offered a few possible reasons why BlackBerry could still hang on in the enterprise...for at least a little while.
Mon, October 21, 2013
CIO — Last week, CTIA - The Wireless Association held its annual MobileCon event in San Jose, Calif. I spent the week hustling back and forth between keynotes, panels, interviews and mobility sessions. I also spoke to a number of interesting sources from companies such as Dell and Good Technology.
During these interviews, I listened to breakdowns of each company's latest announcements; asked related questions to fill in any blanks, and then asked some general mobile questions about issues of interest to me. At the end of each interview, I asked for the sources' takes on BlackBerry.
Not everyone I spoke with felt comfortable or qualified to speak on the subject, but a few had some very interesting information and insights to share.
Dell On (and Off) BlackBerry
I sat down with Tom Kendra, VP and general manager, systems management software, Dell, and Neil Foster, the company's software group executive director, to talk mobile security, BYOD and BlackBerry. Kendra said he and Foster are "responsible for Dell's BYOD strategy."
As soon as I asked about Dell's take on BlackBerry, Kendra pulled out a BlackBerry Bold 9780, and asked with a grin, "What, this thing?"
The Bold 9780 is Kendra's corporate-issued device, which he received "last year." And the fact that he is using it answers the question of whether or not Dell is still supporting BlackBerrys.
But when I asked about BlackBerry's future both within and outside of Dell, he wasn't optimistic. In fact, Dell is no longer issuing BlackBerrys to its employees; instead it currently offers a choice of corporate devices: The Samsung Galaxy S3 or a Nokia Lumia Windows Phone. (Foster didn't remember the specific model of Lumia device.)
"We don't take official positions on what might be their ultimate disposition or what will happen," Kendra said. "All I can tell you is that from a corporate IT perspective, our corporate issue device used to be this [Kendra holds up his BlackBerry), and now it's a couple of other things."
Dell's Foster said that device loyalty rarely comes into play when large corporations make device purchases.
"Dell's a big company [with approximately 110,000 employees], and most big company customers that we have all follow the same thing. They want to negotiate good deals with their telcos, their wireless providers or carriers," Foster said. "So whatever deals that are in place [for phones], there's no real religion around it. It's usually more set up around, 'What's the subsidy plan? How can I get devices cheap?'"
Many BlackBerry models are sure to get deep discounts in the coming months, which could translate into more corporate BlackBerrys. But actions speak louder than words, and Dell has moved away from BlackBerry.
Neither Kendra nor Foster commented directly on the fate of the company, but I got a clear feeling from our conversation that they, and Dell, are not betting on BlackBerry to make any sort of comeback.