The BlackBerry may not be dead, but it's dying. New research from Enterprise Management Associates says that 30 percent of BlackBerry users in companies with more than 10,000 users will move to a different mobile platform in the next year. That would move Research in Motion's standing in large enterprise into that of a minority OS. Today, 52 percent of users in such organizations "actively" use a BlackBerry for work purposes, EMA reports; a 30 percent reduction would bring that total to 36 percent.
"We expected to see some market share loss by RIM, but these results were far more dramatic than we could have anticipated," reports Steve Brasen, EMA's managing research director. They come on the heels of a larger defection: Users of all stripes are moving away from BlackBerry, as its continually declining market share shows.
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Anecdotal evidence bears out this fast shift. At a conference I attended last week for big-company CIOs, more than half had iPhones and about half had BlackBerrys. There were also a couple Android smartphones in use. (Some CIOs had multiple devices, thus the totals coming to more than 100 percent.) All but one had an iPad with them. I've been attending this twice-yearly conference for seven years, and in the last 18 months the shift away from the BlackBerry has been dramatic, going from 100 percent to about 50 percent. And most still using BlackBerrys expected to drop their RIM devices in the next two years.
The reason for BlackBerry's seemingly terminal condition is no surprise outside of RIM: The platform is dated and not that good. Designed as a very efficient messaging platform, the BlackBerry remains really good at text messaging and email when used with RIM's BlackBerry Enterprise Server (BES). But users find it hard to work with: Only 14 percent of BlackBerry users are satisfied with their devices, EMA found, versus 44 percent of iPhone owners. Other surveys show that BlackBerrys are less intuitive and harder to support than iPhones.
Plus, users do much more with iPhones and Android smartphones than they can do with a BlackBerry, whose applications are limited and awkward. And only a few recent BlackBerry models have capable Web browsers.
Users are voting with their, er, hands. ComScore, for example, reports that in the August, RIM's share of new smartphone sales dropped 5 percent to 19.7 percent, whereas Android sales rose 5.6 percent to 43.7 percent and Apple's share rose 0.7 percent to 27.3 percent. Those figures are for all users, but it's no surprise that business users are following suit. The only difference is that business users are favoring iOS devices over Android, due to iOS's better security. In fact, stats on devices in use by enterprise customers -- those who manage users' devices -- show that iPhones are used about twice as often in the workplace as Android devices, mobile device management vendor Good Technology has reported.
Regardless, it's clear that both overall and in enterprise use, the BlackBerry is on its way to becoming the Windows NT or DOS of its market: a once-dominant platform that has been replaced by more modern technology users prefer.
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