BlackBerry India, which has been facing tough challenges in smartphone markets worldwide, revised its strategy in 2014 to focus on four operational units.
Ashish Gupta, director, Carrier Sales, BlackBerry India, reveals how effective the company’s revised strategy was in 2014 and what BlackBerry has in stock for 2015.
Major trends in 2014
2014 has been a good year for the smartphone industry. While as per some estimates, the industry witnessed a slow growth, emerging markets such as India continued to see a buoyant uptake for mobile devices thanks to proliferation of affordable devices. Driving smartphone usage in India is the enhanced connectivity and data experience on the back of 4G roll out. From an industry perspective, there have been some clear trends that emerged this year.
The introduction of 5-inch phones has added a new dimension to smartphone usage providing the optimum combination of price, performance and ‘pocketability’ while also changing the way consumers used their devices for entertainment and managing the work-life balance. Identifying this trend, we saw a lot of players experimenting with the surface space of their devices, making larger screens and incremental changes across various smartphone OS, in order to address different consumer needs.
The services play
With smartphones becoming central to productivity, collaboration, and generally as the key tool to accomplish myriad tasks and functions ranging from bookings to reservations to just keeping in touch, its service and functional capability has become pivotal to us. Smartphone players have integrated social media hubs to innovative consumer centric applications that have truly rendered it as a lifestyle companion to remain relevant and realize the benefits of a ‘connected world.’ Also with IoT becoming a reality, the relevance of M2M communications and interconnected endpoints with the smart phone as a key enabler has emerged as a definite trend as well.
Security and Management of Mobile end points have taken a quantum leap forward, with companies bringing in innovative options for on premise device management or even Cloud based management solutions, thereby fostering the BYOD space with the enterprises.
2014 has been significant year for us as BlackBerry revised its company strategy to tap into new opportunities and market growth. In keeping with this, we’ve structured our business into four operational units including Enterprise Services, Unified communications and collaboration, QNX and the Devices business. By doing so, we intend to drive greater focus on services and software, while establishing a more efficient business model for the devices business. Some of our key achievements this year are as follows:
We partnered with Foxconn in 2014 for joint device development and manufacturing. The initial focus of partnership was deployed for the launch of BlackBerry Z3, a consumer centric for Indonesia, with subsequent roll out in other emerging markets such as India. We had a great response to the BlackBerry Z3, with stock-out in India in the early few weeks after the launch. Just recently, we also launched BlackBerry Passport, with an aim to continue arming young professionals with a productive and collaborative device, without sacrificing the style quotient. With some out-of-the box hardware as well as incremental software upgrades, this device has been widely accepted as a major contender in the Indian market for products in the premium category. Today, BlackBerry has a rich portfolio of devices today that straddles a price point of Rs. 9,000 to Rs. 49,999. We believe we have a steady and healthy pipeline of devices that will continue to address the needs of the power user, the professional consumer and the youth at large in 2015.
Enterprise software and services
BlackBerry has made a spate of acquisitions in the enterprise space this year, as part of its revamped business strategy in 2014. The company’s strategy is to broaden its solutions and services to enable the customers to fully embrace the true potential of enterprise mobility with new initiatives and acquisitions.
Earlier in the year, we unveiled a series of initiatives, codenamed Project Ion, to help businesses easily connect people, devices and machines, and derive value from these connections. Project Ion is a cornerstone of BlackBerry’s vision to offer end-to-end solutions for the Internet of Things. As part of our goal to remain number one in the enterprise mobility management (EMM) segment, we have enabled mobile device management (MDM) companies to directly manage devices with the BlackBerry 10 operating system. AirWatch, Citrix and IBM have expressed their intent to be the first companies to work with BlackBerry to enable a more open mobility ecosystem.
BlackBerry acquired Secusmart, a provider of security voice and data encryption and anti-eavesdropping solutions for government organizations, enterprises and telecommunications service providers. Recently, BlackBerry acquired Movirtu, a provider of multiple identity solutions for mobile operators, including a Virtual SIM platform that allows more than one number to be active on a single device. We also launched BBM Protected, the first solution in the eBBM Suite for enterprise-class messaging. BBM Protected is the only secure mobile instant messaging app that uses a FIPS 140-2 validated cryptographic library, thereby allowing colleagues to exchange private and confidential enterprise data via mobile messaging.
Further strengthening our enterprise services would be our recent strategic partnership with Samsung Electronics, Co, Ltd, to provide a highly secure mobility solution for Android™. As a result, early next year, enterprise customers will have a new choice: a tightly integrated, end-to-end secure solution that brings together our BES12 on Samsung Galaxy smartphones and tablets that are embedded with Samsung KNOX.
QNX Embedded Business: We unveiled new QNX technology in automotive and cloud services at the 2014 International Consumer Electronics Show in January. In India, we are already in talks with key auto manufacturers about this technology.
Messaging: Early this year, we opened up our instant messenger BBM to multi-platforms, – Android, iOS and Windows OS. We partnered with a dozen Android OEMs to preload BBM, including LG, Micromax, Zen and Spice from India. Today we have over 91 million active BBM users. Other along with new value added services such as BBM Channels, BBM stickers and BBM Money.Along with that we also launched new value added services including BBM Channels, BBM stickers and BBM Money. Owing to BBM being sought after as the most secure mobile messaging service, we also launched eBBM o BBM protected for our enterprise users.
Good and bad moments
As mentioned earlier, 2014 has been a good year for the smartphone industry. Though the global smartphone industry slowed down, India continued to emerge as one of the fastest growing smartphone markets. A vast majority of the first time adopters migrated from feature phones to smartphones, India saw an upward growth of 27 percent outshining other markets in APAC. As consumer demand picked up and enterprise mobility gained momentum with BYOD, there has been consistent uptick in the enterprise software and services space too.
We believe data upsurge and mobile broadband will continue to drive smartphone buoyancy. With IoT, M2M finally set to reach the next threshold of development and wireless technologies coming of age, robust mobile security architecture will be crucial for us to have a safe connected ecosystem.
Trends to watch in 2015
2015 will be an interesting time for the smartphone industry and at a broad level. We will begin to look at the segment in two key ways. The first is what it facilitates in isolation as a personal device and the second is what it facilitates within a broader ecosystem of the digital lifestyle. As larger form factors have become popular in the last few years, 2015 will see these devices being used for more than just email, IM and social media.
Entertainment on the go will be the way of the future where videos, HD movie viewing, gaming etc. will drive usage. This naturally points to a move in the direction of a services oriented play where apps become the center of the mobility ecosystem. Most users will now base the purchase of their smartphones on the range of services and apps that meet their unique requirements. Apart from that, technologies such as NFC will go mainstream. Mobile retail payments through apps and NFC will slowly dominate over cash payments and thereby making it a cashless economy. We may not see a wild proliferation of NFC, but 2015 will be the year when brands will increasingly start offering the taste of the first fruits of NFC.
You will see the mobile become a tool that drive transactions and purchasing and hence brands and marketers would make investments in making mobile purchasing a rewarding and rich experience. Right from burgers to automobiles would be bought online in proportions larger than now helping companies reduce overhead costs and driving direct to customer efforts.
Second, deeper mobile penetration will also facilitate a digital lifestyle. Machine2Machine will be the next phase of innovation and Internet of Things (IoT) will take centerstage. Imagine if you can download a mobile app that helps you precool your car that’s parked under the scorching sunlight or a get fill a cup of coffee at the vending machine or broadcast videos on your television set through your smartphone!
Who wouldn’t be excited right? Machine to machine communications and IoT (Internet of things) will start to see the light of day in 2015 as prototypes of autonomous vehicles, advanced robots/ robotics, remote controlled environments, smart homes and smarter consumers will bring in the most disruptive smart-machine era in the history of IT. White goods manufacturers will sit up and take notice of the trend and work towards offering a digital lifestyle solution instead of durables in isolation!
New strategies in 2015
As I mentioned year, last year BlackBerry has announced new partnerships, enterprise solutions and value-added services which will further improve productivity, communication and collaboration for enterprises and further expand BlackBerry’s enterprise portfolio spanning Enterprise Mobility Management (EMM), Identity & Access, and Communications & Collaboration. BES12: a cross-platform EMM solution by BlackBerry serves as the company’s foundation to control access, data and applications across all mission-critical endpoints and devices, supporting all major enterprise platforms.
As part of the company’s strategy, we will continue to broaden our solutions and services to enable customers to fully embrace the true potential of enterprise mobility with new initiatives and acquisitions. We also expect our acquisitions such as Movirtu to further complement our core strategy of providing additional value added services and help us leverage our key assets, including our BES platform, along with our existing global infrastructure. We are expecting to support the deployment of Movirtu technology by mobile operators on all major smartphone operating systems by next year.
On the devices side, we have a rich portfolio of BlackBerry OS7 to BlackBerry 10 devices across price points. We will continue to listen to our customers and the next exciting launch will be the BlackBerry Classic. We believe we have a steady and healthy pipeline of devices that will continue to address the needs of the power user, the professional consumer and the youth at large.
Additionally, we have just partnered withIdea Cellular to provide Enhanced SIM-Based Licensing (ESBL) in India. With the new ESBL offering, Idea Cellular customers will now be able to integrate Enterprise Mobility Management (EMM) services with their wireless monthly subscriber billing.The ESBL offering will benefit enterprise customers immensely with an improved purchasing experience that provides the opportunity to consolidate operational costs into one monthly invoice. The license migration process gets eliminated as license includes upgrades and updates. For customers, they will have the flexibility of a monthly “pay as you go” licensing model delivered through Idea Cellular. Enterprises with 100 percent BYOD policies will also have the opportunity for Bring Your Own License (BYOL) with ESBL.
In short, we will continue to focus on all aspects related to security, collaboration and productivity.