BlackBerry talks up turnaround with customer support

Large rollouts of BES 10 and BB10 in last couple of months show signs of a recovery, ailing smartphone maker claims

BlackBerry is confident it can return to profitability by re-affirming its commitment to enterprise customers.

Markus Mueller, SVP & regional MD of Europe at BlackBerry, told IT Pro the firm is going through a turbulent time but that green shoots of recovery are visible.

"There have been some tough times but we've seen a lot of change over the past six months. On one side it creates fear because you don't know what's coming. On the other it creates opportunities to change things,"  Mueller said.

"In the past two months we're seeing positive results - the first customers are moving to BB10 platforms with five-digit rollouts (Diamler and Airbus) and that creates a lot of confidence internally."

Mueller also pointed to the fact that large enterprise customers didn't jump ship, there's been positive feedback from beta trials of BES 12 and carrier support remains strong.

Perhaps most importantly is the view of customers using the devices. Despite BlackBerry hemorrhaging market share in the consumer space every quarter (worldwide market share down to 0.8 per cent), the reputation of the smartphone maker remains relatively untarnished in the business world. 

Customers who have been with BlackBerry for a decade were on hand at the event to support the smartphone provider.

A panel including the heads of IT from Glasgow City Council, the Medical Protection Society and law firm Taylor Vinters showed there is still a market for BlackBerry products.

Each organisation revealed they had trialled all the popular platforms including iOS and Android, but ultimately decided to go with BB10 handsets because of the security and low-cost of deployment.

Steve Sumner, IT director at law firm Taylor Vinters, said the business has been using BB for 10 years because they "tick all the boxes" in terms of management, security and compliance.

"If you read the press as a layman, you think that BlackBerry is done and gone. That's certainly not the case in law firms which are about reputation, protection and security.  There's a lot of  confidential data moving around," he told attendees.

Sumner claimed that "99 per cent" of devices deployed at his law firm are Q10 or Q5 as solicitors and barristers want to be able to type out accurate and professional looking emails. This is in contrast to  Glasgow City Council, which has deployed 700 devices - almost all of which are Z10s. But again, BlackBerry claims this shows it has something to suit everyone.

Glen Coultish, director of systems and change at the Medical Protection Society, claimed that BlackBerry devices are cheaper than the alternatives.

"We brought in all popular devices from Samsung to iPhone and compared [them]. In terms of cost the BB Z10s were 40-50 per cent compared to other devices,"  he said.

"From a management perspective it again was cheaper [by] thousands of pounds."

Currently, Android and iOS have the lion's share of the UK enterprise market, with 51 per cent and 33 per cent at the end of 2013, according to IDC.

BlackBerry remains in third place with 9 per cent but is being chased down by Windows Phone, which is on 7 per cent. Whether BlackBerry can attract enough customers during the rest of 2014 to remain ahead is the million dollar question.

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