CIOs across the world breathed a huge, collective sigh of relief this week. Blackberry, the company that makes, ummm, Blackberries, finally produced a new device.
Ok, so the new device hardly deserves the tag "innovative" but it is a pretty good match for last year's devices from Apple and Samsung. Blackberry's previous range was, by comparison, a pretty good match for the ZX81. A chasm has, perhaps, been leapt.
CIOs will now hope that the clamour for sexy, touch screen, do everything devices from other companies will go away so that they can capitalise further on their not insubstantial investment in infrastructure, licences and whatnot for the existing devices. Why would they want to go out and spend more (new) money on infrastructure and licences to support devices from other manufacturers when they can just give these shiny new gadgets to their road warriors?
There is, of course, much to ask of this new device. Will the work/play mode work as well as it's suggested? Will the new device be as secure as the old one, or have the Indians and the Saudis already made a play for a backdoor? Will BB be able to issue over the air updates or will corporates be stuck with a tested, accredited version of the same software (and the same functions) a year from now? Now that they've released the Q10 and the Z10 have BB shot themselves in the foot, needing to wait a year before they can release the Q11 and the Z11? Or will they go for the R, S and T10 sooner? How will consumers know the difference beyond keyboard or no keyboard? Is it backward to name a device "10" in 2013? If email was the BB killer app in 1999 and BBM in 2005, what is 2013's equivalent - and does anyone care? Is it enough to be "as good as" the competition?
CIOs that do breathe a sigh of relief won't be able to relax for long though. Blackberry, like Nokia, is clearly fighting it out for third place (with less than 4% of the market) and it's a long way up from where they are. A family of phones and tablets is what is needed, all working together, coupled with file stores, a huge range of apps and new capabilities dropped in regularly.
The pressure on corporates to accommodate multiple devices and to provide secure, easy to use environments across all of them won't let up. One size won't fit all and nor should it.
BB has yet to complete the leap of the chasm. Instead, they are still in the air, legs furiously spinning. I wish them luck getting to the other side.