After a year in which some people called into question Research in Motion's future, the maker of the BlackBerry smartphone is hoping that the much-delayed BlackBerry 10 (BB10) operating system will help turn the company around.
Indeed, new CEO Thorsten Heins has said that the Canadian company is refocusing its efforts on business customers – and away from the end of the market that got the devices re-labelled as "chavberries".
The much-delayed BB10 is now expected to appear in the first quarter of 2013. Computing got an up close view of BB10, and the operating system appears to be firmly focused on the enterprise with, for example, a profiling feature that enables business exec's to run both their business and their personal life from the same device.
Indeed, many of the features behind BB10, according to RIM's senior director of enterprise product management, Jeff Holleran, were developed in response to the rising trend of bring your own device (BYOD).
"We did it because one of the biggest trends we're seeing is the consumerisation of IT and that's what we've built BB10 to support," he said.
A key feature demonstrated to Computing was the single interface on BB10 for work and personal uses with what it calls "the balance experience". It enables users to see separate screens: one for work purposes – with all of the work applications, a work-specific app store and a work calendar; and another for personal purposes.
"A good example of the bridge between personal life and work life of a user that we are filling is the calendar on the device. With many enterprise-managed device management software solutions, once you layer the mobile device management on top of the operating system such as [Apple] iOS you have a second calendar and you don't have a way to protect that calendar data inside the live calendar on the device. This means you have two different calendars on the device, which is costing users more time to use," he said.
This, Holleran believes, is one of the unique features that will persuade enterprises to select BlackBerry as their chosen mobile platform.
But many companies are already in the process of adapting their working environment to iPhone and Android devices, which means that RIM will face quite a challenge to restore its former position in the enterprise.
Holleran is bullish about this, suggesting that the BlackBerry outages, RIM job cuts and financial losses gave the public the wrong impression of BlackBerry.
"One thing about our numbers is that BlackBerry has always grown in size, it's a big misperception that there has been a falloff in our numbers – quarter-over-quarter we've consistently grown our overall subscriber numbers," he said.