All the world wanted was great phone within their network
"BlackBerry (NASDAQ:BBRY) used to be known worldwide for secure messaging. How did we know our BlackBerry messaging was secure?
BlackBerry offered consumers a service called BIS, and it used a proprietary network (far from the Wild West of the Internet) to compress, encrypt, and push messages out to customers. Moreover, BIS was intelligent enough to follow the user wherever they travelled, thereby saving loads of roaming fees. It also had PIN-based messages if you wanted to appear really stealthy.
BIS was a “walled garden” email and messaging system. One had to be a member (subscriber) to enter the garden, and thus it felt…well, secure. BlackBerry, via BIS (and its enterprise big brother BES), was synonymous with secure, compressed, push email and messaging. And the business users rejoiced, slept better, and generally ignored the security snob who tried to debate the merits of other secure solutions.
However, with BB10 (at least for consumers), BIS is gone…and so, too, is that secure feeling. We’ve been kicked out of the garden.
My BB10 is now just like everything else. It uses the Internet and “polling” to get email. It uses ActiveSync or Pop3 or iMAP to sync email. BBM (its proprietary messaging client) does use BlackBerry’s network, although I had to look hard to find that to be true.
Still, a BB10 phone feels like every other smartphone we can use in the Wild West. I also lost my data compression (important in some emerging markets with lower bandwidth connections), my push email, and my encryption. Without these features, I might as well get a “cooler” smartphone.
If one is lucky enough to be an employee of a company that uses BES10, he can segment the company side of his device from the consumer side, with the former being secured. I’m now one-half secure. However, there are many millions of small businesses, business professionals, and consumers who are not part of a BES-enabled organization, though still want…require…the same services.
Earlier this week, I wrote about the service problem facing BlackBerry (see BlackBerry Has a Business Model Problem). Or more specifically, a “lack of services” problem – for every consumer BB7 user that moves to BB10, BlackBerry loses a $4/month in subscription revenue. But, as I point out above, it also turns a customer that values secure messaging into a customer that doesn’t have a choice to get secure messaging.
In its attempt to be like Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL), BlackBerry is ruining its brand. Instead of pushing email to its customers, BlackBerry is pushing customers to Apple or Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd. (OTCMKTS:SSNLF).
The BlackBerry brand is supposed to mean “data efficient,” “guaranteed delivery,” and “secure messaging.” Not “some messages are secure.” Not “sometimes delivered.”
It should mean fast, reliable, secure messaging. (And it’s always been a plus that I can use a real keyboard that allows my adult thumbs to pump out a large number of secure messages.)
BlackBerry has spent more than a billion dollars on its global network. It is the heart of the company’s business model, its competitive advantage…its brand. It brought in $4 billion in fees in 2012 (but those same fees will be down double digits this year). Years of lousy handsets didn’t seem to keep users away
In the new world of BB10, with much better handsets, the company is losing customers (subscribers) faster than ever before. BlackBerry management thinks it has a device problem. It really has a services problem that is turning into a branding problem.
BlackBerry has to get back to its roots in secure messaging. It needs to bring back the next generation of BIS. It must offer cross-platform BIS. It has to offer a set of value-added solutions that support its claim as the most secure and efficient messaging platform on the planet.
And it must be able to charge for these services. As shareholders, literally and figuratively, we have to believe that a billion dollar global, secure, data-efficient messaging network has to be good for something. Here are a few suggestions where to start (there are no doubt many more “services” that can be introduced, but this is a beginning):
•Introduce next-gen BIS email for BlackBerry 10 Users. When BlackBerry ships BBM for iOS and Android this summer, bring back BIS email for BB10 users. Mr. Snowden, courtesy of the NSA, just provided about $1 billion in marketing funds supporting a truly secure email and messaging solution.
•Introduce BIS email and BBM to iOS and Android devices. Deliver a cross-platform secure email client that shares a single address book and calendar with BBM.
•Make BBM a cross service messaging client and service. Support AIM (NYSE:AOL), Yahoo (NASDAQ:YHOO), Google Talk (NASDAQ:GOOG), MSN (NASDAQ:MSFT), Skype, LinkedIn (NYSE:LNKD) and Facebook (NASDAQ:FB) users in a single interface. Moreover, to the extent possible, provide presence information and make those communications secure.
•Introduce BIS email and messaging to the Windows and OS X laptops and desktops. Offer the secure messaging client and a plug in to make Outlook more secure, on both Windows and OS X.