RIP, BlackBerry

Bob Bragdon on the imminent demise of his longtime smartphone vendor

Alas, poor BlackBerry, I knew it well. Apologies for quoting Hamlet, but it seems appropriate.

I got my first BlackBerry in the late '90s. It was a pager, and it was great. I had never heard of Research in Motion, but an ISP bartered with my company to get my team using the devices. They were pretty cool for the time. And they always worked.

We didn't give a lot of thought to security back then, but as I understand it, they were pretty secure.

I've used lots of BlackBerry devices over the years, as they became a ubiquitous business tool. They always did their job: allowing me to access corporate information when I couldn't or chose not to get on the corporate network. The form factor was and continues to be good, with a full physical keyboard that many prefer over the virtual keyboards of iOS devices. As BlackBerrys became smartphones, their security and manageability remained good.

[Also read Android vs iOS vs BlackBerry: Which is most secure?]

That's why they've been an enterprise favorite. You could lock and wipe them remotely, if need be. You controlled all levels of access and support. In many ways, they were better than some laptop systems.

There I go, talking about BlackBerrys in the past tense. But the past tense is where they are headed. Scores of businesses are allowing the BlackBerry to die through attrition, and they long for the day--not far off--when they will be able to unplug their BlackBerry Enterprise Servers and just rely on ActiveSync. The BlackBerry is succumbing to usability and the consumerization of IT.

It's a tool with good manageability and security, but BlackBerry's user-friendliness has been put to shame by iPhones and Androids, cool devices that were designed with the end user in mind, but with little regard for the demands of the enterprise. They have questionable security and manageability, which can expose the business to unwelcome risks.

But let's be honest: This isn't the first time this has happened to enterprise IT. Remember the PC revolution? It began at home. Those dumb terminals went the way of the dinosaurs. So is it now with BlackBerrys, I fear. Will we survive? Sure. But we need to change how we think about mobile devices, and we are woefully behind the curve on this one.

As we talk about all these options, we're speaking of apples and oranges. We talk about BlackBerrys vs. iPhones vs. Android phones. BlackBerry is a single hardware and software platform, as is iOS with iPhones and iPads. Android, on the other hand, is a platform with many hardware options, some of which can be made very secure and some of which don't really care about security. Even how we define security for these devices remains a topic of debate.

But at the end of the day, we're just living through another technology revolution. We'll figure it out. We always do. RIP, BlackBerry.

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.
Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Bob Bragdon

CSO (US)
Show Comments

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Tom Pope

Dynabook Portégé X30L-G

Ultimately this laptop has achieved everything I would hope for in a laptop for work, while fitting that into a form factor and weight that is remarkable.

Tom Sellers

MSI P65

This smart laptop was enjoyable to use and great to work on – creating content was super simple.

Lolita Wang

MSI GT76

It really doesn’t get more “gaming laptop” than this.

Jack Jeffries

MSI GS75

As the Maserati or BMW of laptops, it would fit perfectly in the hands of a professional needing firepower under the hood, sophistication and class on the surface, and gaming prowess (sports mode if you will) in between.

Taylor Carr

MSI PS63

The MSI PS63 is an amazing laptop and I would definitely consider buying one in the future.

Christopher Low

Brother RJ-4230B

This small mobile printer is exactly what I need for invoicing and other jobs such as sending fellow tradesman details or step-by-step instructions that I can easily print off from my phone or the Web.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?