RIM Seeks Balance between Blackberry Work and Play

by Matt Klassen on May 3, 2011

If the mobile market were a stereotypical movie about a high school prom it wouldn’t be difficult to assign particular roles in the high school societal spectrum to each of the market leaders. In my mind, Apple’s iPhone would clearly be the prom king, that dreamy guy that all the girls want to dance with but who seems untouchable atop his popularity pedestal. Android-based phones, for their part, would be the jocks, the football or basketball stars; sure there’s a lot of them, but everyone likes them for the unique roles they each play during the game. 

Research in Motion, on the other hand, would be more like the computer geeks; the prototypical cinematic hard-luck case; wallflowers who despite their unrivalled intellectual superiority find themselves stuck doing the prom king’s homework.

But as with so many such movies in the past, with a few minor tweaks in its wardrobe RIM is showing the prom world—I mean mobile market—that it has a fun side too, and it’s ready to party. It’s releasing the Blackberry Balance.

There’s little question that over the past couple of years Apple, Android, and RIM have been separated into clearly demarcated categories. Apple, thanks to its indomitable marketing machine, has become not only the tech everyone wants, but the tech everyone needs, capturing significant portions of the consumer tech market thanks to the iPhone, iPad, and even iPod. 

Android, with its explosive growth, has become the Apple alternative, the less intuitive but still easy-to-use mobile OS featured on some pretty powerful phones. It should come as no surprise, then, that RIM has long been associated with the business world, a productive and secure piece of tech that lacks the swagger and popularity of either of its rivals, but who made up for it by being the number one enterprise choice.

The issue of late, however, is that both Apple and Android are making inroads into the business market, as users increasingly want a device that is proficient at work but also likes to play, moves that have seen RIM lose several of its key customers as its popularity wanes amidst ongoing security concerns.

But while RIM is still focused on the Blackberry as a business phone, the Canadian company is set to release a new technology it unveiled earlier this year called the Blackberry Balance, a platform that allows users to use their Blackberry for work and play without compromising corporate security.

The platform would conceivably allow companies to better manage their employees’ phones, creating protective walls, as it were, around sensitive materials, walls that would prevent users from connecting corporate files to personal emails for instance.

The point behind such a platform is as much about corporate security as it is about device accessibility, as RIM is hoping that users and companies alike will be more comfortable with Blackberrys being utilized for personal use, without having to worry about the inherent security threats contained therein.

But despite the fact that RIM is subtly trying to rebrand the Blackberry as a phone that doesn’t sacrifice security for fun, the bottom line is that there still doesn’t seem to be anything fun about it, meaning that users will continue to turn to Apple and Android for their work-life phone.

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Written by: Matt Klassen. www.digitcom.ca. Follow TheTelecomBlog.com by: RSS, Twitter, Facebook, or YouTube.

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