This week, RIM introduced the BlackBerry Torch and finally went head-to-head with Apple iPhone 4 and HTC Droid Incredible. What took RIM so long?
Maybe RIM felt that consumer smartphones weren’t a threat to the BlackBerry’s dominant position in the enterprise. After all, RIM holds a lion’s share of the mobile enterprise. IT departments love the BlackBerry’s enterprise features, as well as the BlackBerry Enterprise Server.
So RIM must have been blindsided by the latest tech trend: the consumerization of IT. From BYOC (or bring your own computer) policies to top execs demanding IT support the iPhone, employees are quickly finding the power seat at the technology table.
I’m not sure what caused this trend to happen now. Perhaps people are working harder than ever (read: longer hours) or at home to save on office costs. Whatever the reason, the line between work and home is blurring—and people want one device for both. Naturally, they want the one that works best in their personal lives.
A few CIOs have already embraced the consumerization of IT, especially with smartphones. EMC’s RSA division surveyed 400 IT decisions makers and found that 20 percent of businesses let users suggest which smartphones to buy.
CIOs should also be watching consumer demand indicators to get an idea of what’s coming in their own enterprises. Right now, we’re in the midst of a consumer smartphone bonanza. With the iPhone 4 and Droid Incredible hitting shelves this year, consumer demand for smartphones is expected to spike in the next three months, according to ChangeWave Research.
What about BlackBerries? Not so much. “In short, in recent quarters RIM models appear to have lost their ‘cool factor,’ and the onus is now squarely on RIM to regain consumers’ confidence in their products,” wrote ChangeWave researchers Paul Carton and Jean Crumrine in a research note.
This consumer mindset is slowly being reflected inside the enterprise. That is, iPhones and Android devices are riding the consumerization of IT wave and battering at BlackBerry’s door. (Check out Goodbye BlackBerry: Future Belongs to the iPhone.)
Consider the most recent news: Mobile enterprise management provider Good Technology shared customer data today showing it has helped more than 1,500 enterprises—including 40 of the Fortune 100—deploy iPhones, iPads and Android devices in the first half of this year.
According to Good Technology, iOS and Android are in 43 percent of all customer deployments. “Overwhelmingly, [employees] are choosing the iPhone and Android smartphones,” says Alex Yanez, telecommunications engineer for Patagonia, an outdoor retailer and Good Technology customer.
Whether or not BlackBerry Torch can deliver the cool factor, woo consumers, and slow the enterprise march of iPhones and Android devices isn’t clear yet. But the Torch couldn’t have come a moment too soon for RIM.
Tom Kaneshige covers Apple and Networking for CIO.com. Follow Tom on Twitter @kaneshige. Follow everything from CIO.com on Twitter @CIOonline. Email Tom at firstname.lastname@example.org.