A lot has been written since BlackBerry (formerly RIM) announced the new BlackBerry 10 OS and their two flagship phones, the Z10 and Q10. I have read several reviews now and all seem to be surprisingly complimentary to BlackBerry on a decent phone and OS which stands alongside some of the current leading smartphones. Many cite the lack of apps as a concern and unfortunately that is just a symptom of BlackBerry coming so late to the party. However many also seem to have overlooked a key feature of BlackBerry’s new devices which could just be enough to save the company.
The BlackBerry traditionally has two main user groups, the young teenager who likes the low cost of the BlackBerry range and BBM (BlackBerry Messenger) and the business man who loved Blackberry’s approach to email. The feature I am talking about is squared aimed at the later of these two customers and is called the BlackBerry Balance. Balance basically splits the phone into two – one side for personal use and the other for corporate use. There are already an estimated 1 billion smartphones in circulation today and you can bet that is not 1 billion users. This is because many people, myself included, carry round 2 phones. One my own personal phone and the other a company issued one and this will be case millions of times over.
So how does BlackBerry Balance work?
Basically it segments the phone into two completely separate parts. The real appeal here is to corporate enterprises because it means the files and apps created on the work side are encrypted and not accessible by the personal side. The corporation can restrict and control what goes in to work side and importantly wipe the data at any point e.g. when you leave the company or the phone is stolen. It then leaves the personal side to be controlled and managed by the user.
This gets around most of the concerns which corporations have about Bring Your Own Devices To Work (BYOD) initiatives. Companies are happy then to issue these devices and consumers are more likely to chose them if they know their company supports them. Or that’s the idea.
An important point to realise here is that the 2 segments are completely separate so this means you will have to install an app twice if you want it both on your work side and personal side. Or even simple things like address books will be separate, it still really is like having two phones.
In my opinion this should be enough for BlackBerry to start saving some of their big corporate accounts and maybe even start to win some back. With increased demand apps will start to follow and BlackBerry will be back in the game.
This of course is not guaranteed by any means and I am concerned about the severity of the split on the phone and doesn’t lend itself to how customer actually want to use the phone. Ideally I’d want Balance to integrate some of work and personal sides together and it feels a bit to rigid at the moment but I do think gives BlackBerry a chance so let’s not write them off just yet.