H4cked Off: Rotten BlackBerry

By Stuart Sumner
30 May 2014 View Comments

Lots of CIOs appear to be losing faith in the BlackBerry platform, instead choosing to use iOS, Windows Phone, or Android in preference.

We know this because Computing speaks to CIOs every day, and mobility is one of the core topics we speak to them about. And on top of these interviews, we conduct research into the major IT trends. Here's a quick sneak peak at something we're going to present at our Enterprise Mobility Summit on 12th June:


[Click on image to enlarge]

Respondents were senior IT professionals at medium to large UK-based organisations.

For further evidence of BlackBerry's plight, you need only check the share price. It has roughly halved over the last year, going from $14.42 to $7.71, whereas its rival Apple has seen its grow from $451.58 to $638 (source: Nasdaq). Though of course there are many other factors at play there, so let's not dwell on those figures.

What's more interesting however, is what happens whenever Computing reports on anything to do with the Canadian smartphone manufacturer: we almost immediately get flamed by dozens of putative BlackBerry ‘fans'.

The most recent example is a story we ran under the headline: ‘CIOs losing faith in BlackBerry'. In less than 24 hours it has 24 comments. Some are from myself defending the journalism in the piece, but the vast majority are from outraged BlackBerry fans. I had no idea there were so many out there. I've certainly never met any in real life.

Here are some choice excerpts:

ChatteySue said: "This is a load of hog wash. Are you living under a rock. BlackBerry is the most secure platform and the most innovate and efficient mobile device on the market. This was a waste of 1's and 0's."

VitriolicSue might have been a better username.

Cruisecontrol said: "2 CIOS constitute a majority? You better re-think your headline-you are very ill-informed if you don't know that Blackberry is the only secure communication approved by USA & CDN Military G7 Governments and more; Your rehash of Blackberry's supposed demise shows you have a lack of credibility. You can fool some of the people but i think your iq may be showing."

Robert Friedman said: "...how much did Apple pay you to write this article? As a so called 'journalist' I'm sure you researched things first and can answer one simple question- how many times has Apple been hacked this year (2014) versus BlackBerry?"

Web99 said: "It's a very poorly researched article. Especially given the fact that BlackBerry has over 60% of the MDM market-share in large enterprises."

The last user then went on to cite a URL linking to a BlackBerry blog on its own site. Others linked to a BlackBerry promotional video on YouTube. Do real people do that? State that a firm must be doing well because its marketing material says so? Maybe they do, and maybe I'm overly cynical.

Then again...

The best bit is when you click on the users' names - and there are many more than I've quoted here. Almost all of the people who defended BlackBerry has commented dozens of times on Computing, and only on stories about BlackBerry. And each time it's the same - vitriolic posts attacking the journalist for daring to report on a story relating to their one true love.

And they all miss the point. In the story I've cited today, Computing reports what two CIOs told us recently. That's it. We don't endorse their view. We don't suggest that BlackBerry is more or less secure, or even better or worse in any way than anything else. We just report what CIOs have said to us.

And yet the attacks fly in that we're ‘clueless', being ‘paid by Apple' (we're not, sadly), and have performed ‘poor research'.

I've been on enough forums to get how it works on the internet, but by and large the Computing comments section is a professional forum for sharing ideas and news. It just stops being that whenever we report on BlackBerry, and that seems highly suspicious to me.

But wait, it gets darker.

Companies sometimes run editorial campaigns with media brands - they basically get their name presented to the audience alongside various categories of article in the hopes that they'll be associated with certain issues.

There, I've revealed the undergarments of the publishing industry to you.

In the last year, BlackBerry dangled a substantially well-financed campaign in front of Computing, and various other brands, some IT-focused publications, some well-known national and international broadsheets.

Computing is editorially independent, there is no pressure on the journalists to write anything positive or negative based on any sponsor, potential or otherwise. If we miss a story, it's not because we've been paid off, it's basically just my fault for missing it.

But, this BlackBerry campaign ultimately turned out to be snake oil. Despite months of calls and meetings, nothing ever materialised, though we were regularly assured it was just around the corner. I can't help but wonder if it was all just an attempt to stop certain key brands from publishing negative stories for a time, basically for free? Didn't work in our case, but still, a stroke of creative genius nonetheless.

All of this is just my opinion. I might be wildly off the mark. But have a look at the article I mentioned earlier, and make your own mind up. Seems pretty damning to me.


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