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CIO - Despite shrinking U.S. mobile market share and an ongoing loss of consumer confidence in the company, BlackBerry-maker Research In Motion (RIM) is still putting the enterprise first.
In the first quarter of 2013, the Canadian company plans to launch its first BlackBerry 10 smartphones, along with some updated mobile-device-management software. Last week, at RIM's BlackBerry Jam Americas developer conference, I sat down with both Jeff Holleran, RIM's senior director of enterprise product management, and Gregg Ostrowski, the company's senior director of technical solutions, to discuss BlackBerry 10 and BES 10 and what these new product will mean to enterprises developers.
BlackBerry Balance and BES 10
The most significant feature in BlackBerry 10, from an enterprise perspective, is probably BlackBerry Balance, which lets corporations create two separate on-device "personas," one for corporate data and one for personal information. BlackBerry Balance isn't exactly new--we've know about Balance for more than a year--but the version of Balance in BlackBerry 10 has many new features and a polished interface.
"The goal and the experience of Balance is to support that BYOD user that brings a BlackBerry into work, and, the day they walked into the company, they had a device in a certain state with their information on it," Holleran says. "They day they walk out of the company they'll have all of that same information. The experience people have today, they're signing over their life when they bring a device in."
BlackBerry Balance lets enterprises wipe all corporate data without affecting the personal information stored on users' device, Holleran says--though RIM will provide some custom options to wipe personal information for "advanced customers looking for a complete lockdown."
"BlackBerry Balance is not just protection of the corporate data," he says. "It is protection of the personal data as well. It truly separates the uses of the device and what you're doing in either persona from each other. So what's done on the enterprise side is clear. If you're in a regulated industry, it's very important to do the right things to manage and monitor what you do [with your device.]"
When a BlackBerry 10 user switches back and forth between corporate and personal personas, his background "wallpaper" changes so he immediately knows which persona is active. And the same applications can be installed within both workspaces so users can employ the apps or services for both work and personal purposes without accidentally using a personal account for work or vice versa.
"This is something that's very unique to the BlackBerry experience, this ability to put the second version of the application out there and really isolate the use cases between the two."
That sounds great from an enterprise perspective, but do users really want to flip back and forth between multiple "phones" in a single piece of hardware?
"As an end user of a device, I don't want to make that mistake [of accidentally misusing a work app]. So if the device can help me do my job better, it becomes a more compelling experience to me," says Holleran.