Blackberry Releases Passport for Professionals

BlackBerry_Passport 3Last week Blackberry introduced the square-screened Passport phone, the first major new device introduced globally by the company since John Chen was named Chief Executive Officer in November. The Passport, which is geared toward professionals, is Blackberry’s attempt to concentrate on higher-margin services for corporations.

Maira Bay de Souza has over 10 years of experience as an IT professional, from small businesses to Fortune 20 companies. She says, “I think RIM is trying as hard as they can to save their sinking ship. I am not sure at this point if it will manage to stay afloat. From an IT development perspective, we write apps for the platforms where we can get the most number of users or the highest paying customers. In terms of user base, Android and Apple seem like the most logical choice. These are the platforms with the most users.

“However, big companies (who might prefer Blackberry due to its yet unbeatable security) also have big money. If I were offered to develop a highly specialized app for Blackberry for a big company, I would jump at the opportunity without hesitation. Whether the big and rich corporations will choose to stay with RIM remains to be seen. I personally (as a Canadian IT professional) hope that RIM thrives. More platforms mean more competition in the industry and also more jobs.”

Software engineer Neil Jacobson’s primary focus is specialized application development. “Before Apple made an enterprise push and before well-designed Android phones were available, Blackberry had fostered a great amount of goodwill in the marketplace,” explains Jacobson. “The arrival of well integrated and useful business apps for iOS and Android and RIM’s slower than slow response eroded that goodwill and their fans dissipated and moved on. Perhaps if RIM moves to Android and engages with that ecosphere they may rise again but it truly seems that their time has passed.”

James Davis and his partner have over 30 years of combined cellular and telecom experience. In his opinion, “It’s far too easy right now to count BlackBerry out given the level of competition and mindshare for productivity in devices from competitors. That said, we should better understand their expectations.. They essentially have two options in branding and device development:

1. Leverage and cater the brand for what it has been great at (professionals) and hope to capture some of market share within that small slice of the pie.

2. Develop devices and platform interesting enough to sway users business users accustomed to the multiuse capabilities found amongst competitor devices and OS’s.

It seems they are addressing both of these well with the Passport. It’s different enough, has the iconic keyboard and still brings the business centric design front and forward. I do think they will have very loyal users buying the new device. But as we shift to convergence platforms and services outside of just a mobile phones, it may prove to be a difficult road ahead.”

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