Goodbye BlackBerry: We Hardly Knew Ye

BlackBerry

It’s hard to believe that the BlackBerry is on its deathbed. Dominant as the ONLY enterprise mobile device of choice just a decade ago, the “crackberry” was as vital a piece of business equipment as a PC or laptop. The BlackBerry dominated until 2006 when Apple debuted of the first iPhone, which had grabbed 17% market share by year’s end. Android quietly launched the following year and today, Android and iOS devices dominate the landscape.

After a more than decade-long struggle, BlackBerry ultimately lost the war against the double juggernaut of Steve Job’s iOS revolution and Google’s relentless drive for global online domination. And it didn’t help that BlackBerry missed the memo alerting the market that the REAL market mover was the apps, not the actual device or operating system.

In 2008, Apple launched its AppStore with an estimated 500 apps, and today, the store boasts more than 1.1 million apps and a staggering 60 billion downloads. Android isn’t far behind with an estimated 1 million apps and 50 billion downloads from its Google Play marketplace. Contrast that with BlackBerry; it took the company until 2009 to launch its App World Store, which today boasts around 100,000 apps with just over 4 billion downloads in its lifetime.

This translates directly to device relevance and market adoption. Simply put, the more apps you have on your device, the more useful it is to you. And the more things you can do, find, access, share and replace with those apps, the more VITAL that device is to your day-to-day life. Apps are now largely dictating who’s winning the war for the hearts and minds of both business and consumer users – and Apple and Android are winning big.

The numbers say it all. My company offers an enterprise file-sharing solution that includes mobile access from virtually any device, and we have tracked access by device type since the company started in 2007. This data offers a unique “snapshot” of device and OS usage patterns by our business users and the numbers are revealing.

You’d think we’d see lots of BlackBerry users, along with a pretty even split among Apple and Android users. In fact, BlackBerry device access to our system represents less than 1% of all activity – ever! Compare that with Apple device access (iPhones and iPads) at around 60% and Android-compatible devices accounting for the rest.

Last year, in fact, iOS devices were used to access our system 2.4x more than Android devices. If apps drive the market and security is now a non-issue, the battle is already won, and according to our numbers, Apple is king when it comes to business.

So all of this is great news for users, but what does it mean for businesses? BYOD has been a hot topic for the past five years, and companies are still grappling with how to rationalize a strategy that balances the desire of employees to use their devices for work against the needs of the business to keep its systems, files and information “safe” – especially when it comes to sharing data inside and outside of the company.

Employees have latched on to cloud-only file sharing solutions, such as Dropbox, to get easy access to any file saved to the cloud and make collaboration simple. Between security breaches and government spying though, IT has been extremely concerned about the cloud for its data.

A recent IDG report estimates that up to 61% of files will NEVER go to the cloud due to security and sensitivity concerns. That leaves just 39% of files that employees can easily get to from their personal devices. They still can’t get to the rest of their files, many of which are business-critical, without making many extra steps and a measurable amount of inconvenience and frustration (can you say VPN?).

The answer is stunningly simple and solves several challenges at once: find an enterprise-ready, secure service that gives users easy, intuitive access to their business information via their device of choice, while delivering the security, management and control IT needs to keep a firm grasp of who’s accessing the system, what they’re looking at and the files they’re sharing.

Give administrators the centralised ability to change, limit access or remove users centrally with just one click and make sure it adheres to the latest in security protocols so everyone stays safe AND productive. Businesses don’t need to provide BlackBerrys to ensure data is secure any longer. Say goodbye to the BlackBerry and hello to the future of enterprise mobility where apps are king and Apple is wearing the crown. For now…

Vineet Jain

Vineet Jain is the CEO and co-founder of Egnyte. Prior to Egnyte, Vineet founded Valdero, a supply chain software solution provider, funded by KPCB, MDV and Trinity Ventures. He has held a rich variety of senior operational positions at companies including KPMG and Bechtel. He has 20 years' experience in building capital efficient organisations.