What enterprise vendors can learn from BlackBerry
The Globe on Friday published an investigative report titled "Inside the fall of BlackBerry: How the smartphone inventor failed to adapt." The in-depth article pulls no punches, yet does a fair job of chronicling the various missteps made by the company as it sought to reinvent itself. In a nutshell: BlackBerry wasn't blind to the threat posed by the iPhone, but it struggled to adapt quickly enough to compete with the iOS and the Android platforms.
As someone who has been using a BlackBerry (NASDAQ: BBRY) together with an iPhone since the iPhone 3S (I carry two phones) came out, the piece got me thinking about the unpopularity of the BlackBerry smartphone despite clear--initially anyway--advantages in security and device manageability.
My conclusion: These are not necessarily things that the vast majority of users today care about. Just take a look at some of the most popular smartphones today, and it becomes quickly evident that factors such as ease of use and intuitive operation are far more important considerations.
Why are business-grade devices so user-unfriendly?
This of course brings me to my complaint about enterprise hardware and other business-centric devices. If there is one common denominator here, it would surely be the sheer complexity of configuring and managing these devices. Indeed, configuration options can often be counterintuitive, and even if it seems to work, it's probably safer to read the manual just to be certain that there isn't an inadvertent misconfiguration somewhere.
Obviously, the efforts of enterprise hardware vendors have not always been about delivering easy-to-use devices, but on highly robust and feature-rich hardware. Yet a new wave of intuitive business-centric hardware has already arrived on the market that goes beyond the bare necessitates. For example, device makers such as Ruckus Wireless, Synology and Meraki (Acquired by Cisco) come with sleek Web 2.0 interfaces. Now, if only more enterprise vendors pull up their socks on this front.
Just like I have kept using a BlackBerry because of features that I can't do without, I'm sure there are administrators and IT managers who will continue using their favorite brands or hardware. Ultimately though, device makers may want to take a page from the smartphone makers, and do more to make their devices easier to use--lest they run the risk of being left behind. – Paul Mah (Twitter @paulmah)