Last week BlackBerry published an open letter in an attempt to reassure their customers that they'll still be around. They wrote that they wanted to "set the record straight on a few things," but after reading the letter it's clear that many of their claims don't reflect reality. Take a look at the original letter. Our comments are below. (The original letter was posted on their site as a JPG, so that's what we have here.)
Let's take a look at some of the claims they made and see how they stack up to reality:
"We changed with the market, embracing BYOD because we understand that as iOS and Android devices become more common in the workplace, businesses still need to manage all of these different platforms seamlessly and securely."
They changed "with the market?" I don't think so. Modern MDM capabilities for iOS and Android came out in 2010, but BlackBerry didn't start managing iOS and Android until 2012. So we'll call this about two years too late. And other vendors have been creating third-party email clients for Android since 2008 and for iOS since 2009, but BlackBerry didn't start doing that until 2013. So really BlackBerry was years behind the rest of the market, not "with the market."
Continuing on with regard to managing iOS and Android, the letter states:
"This is not a trivial task. While there are a number of startup companies that make bold claims, BlackBerry has more software engineers and the most resources dedicated to developing the most innovative solutions to address this complex challenge."
They're right, it's not a trivial task to deal with iOS and Android, but other companies are certainly figuring it out, and it's more than just "a number of startup companies," too. AirWatch, MobileIron, Fiberlink, Citrix, Symantec, Good, Dell, VMware, Microsoft, McAfee, SAP, BoxTone, Soti, IBM, AppSense, Amtel, Bitzer, Globo, and dozens more are all working on managing iOS and Android. Many of these companies are growing and have huge numbers of engineers. Then there's also Apple, Samsung, LG, Motorola, HTC, Amazon, VMware, Cellrox, Red Bend, and General Dynamics that are working on making sure that devices have good management capabilities built-in. Trying to lump these all together as "startup companies" is inaccurate.
And what's this about "dedicated to developing the most innovative solutions to address this complex challenge?" Umm, BlackBerry's MDM and MAM offerings are based on white-label software from OpenPeak. It's not their innovation at all! They don't need thousands of engineers innovating for that, they just need a licensing guy.
I don't want to sound like I'm hating on BlackBerry. I totally agree with Jack that BlackBerry could still dominate if they got their heads out of their asses around licensing. (They need to allow current BES customers add management for iOS and Android for no extra charge. For example, if a customer has been buying 700 BES licenses for the past ten years, and now they have only 200 BlackBerrys and 500 iOS/Android devices, BlackBerry makes them buy new full-price licenses for the iOS/Android devices. That's crazy stupid, because doing so means the customer will now shop around. If BlackBerry said, "Keep paying your maintenance on your 700 BES licenses, and now you can use them for BB, iOS, and Android," then they'd have an instant foot-hold in the iOS/Android market.)
And it's cool that BBM for Android and iOS has finally launched, (after some drama), and BlackBerry recently announced a cloud-based management service. Despite those gains though, they're in a tough spot, and with the crazy claims in this letter, you can see how they got there.