Till about six years ago, Blackberry was the undisputed champion in the smartphone segment, a title which it was later forced to give up when the definition of smartphone changed with the introduction of the iPhone and Android devices. Blackberry has, since then, incessantly been losing market share and even its existence was in grave danger till they tried to reinvent themselves by awakening to the need of the day and introducing the Blackberry OS 10 and related devices.
One area, however, where Blackberry still holds a strong lead is in enterprise solutions. Even in India, a business phone has become akin to Blackberry. Samsung, the leader in India’s rising smartphone market, is planning to make a dent in Blackberry’s home ground, by moving beyond selling phones for personal use to business users. At a high profile strategic meeting of their senior management folks in Hyderabad, the company announced its new focus on enterprise market and they aim to earn at least 10% of its revenues this year from enterprise customers. This might just turn out to be a cause of concern for the struggling Blackberry, which earns 50% of its revenue from the enterprise mobile market.
While Android has become an everyday name in the personal smartphone market, it still finds few takers in the enterprise market. This is primarily due to the fact that it was initially designed to be for personal use and lacked security features that corporate IT guys were looking for. In Europe and US, the enterprise sector started welcoming the iPhone as a corporate handset, with only a few opting for Android, which had, by then, beefed up its security features. But a major concern against Android is that since it is hugely popular and its app market is often infiltrated by malware, corporates are often wary of using the platform.
Samsung recognized this drawback and tried to develop its own solution. They introduced SAFE (Samsung for Enterprise) some time ago, which promised to provide on device encryption, Virtual Private Network (VPN) and Mobile Device Management (MDM). At the recently held Mobile World Congress, Samsung unveiled SAFE with Knox, which it dubs as the most comprehensive mobile security solution. Its main feature is that a partition can be easily made between personal and work environments, with each section not able to access the other. The Knox environment will only have trusted apps, which Samsung is working with third party providers. So while malicious software, if any, can’t access your work environment, the IT guys, who can remotely wipe your work email and other confidential company documents, can’t have access to your personal email, photos and other information. With this feature, Samsung is trying to muscle its way into the enterprise market.
India is a huge market for Samsung, as its sales in 2012 rose 150% to reach Rs. 5942 crores, with over half the sales coming from phones. Samsung is convinced that it can generate 10% of its revenue from enterprise this year and almost a quarter of its global revenue by 2020.
This may seem like a steep task for Samsung due to a variety of reasons:
- Blackberry is almost synonymous with business phones and with the introduction of OS 10, it boats of even more features. It is always difficult to nudge an already existing and established player in the market. Safe with Knox is still in its nascent stage.
- Samsung initially aims to introduce Safe with Knox with its high end phones like S3 and Note2. Corporates can make use of Blackberry Enterprise even with phones like Curve which cost a third of these Samsung phones.
- Special data plans for Blackberry are available by all telecom providers while Samsung is still to decide its pricing and other details.
- One of the main advantages of Blackberry is that it has a good physical keyboard, which makes typing emails a piece of cake. Personally, I have an Android personal phone and I swear by it; still I have to accept that I find it easier to type on my Blackberry corporate phone.
But Samsung has one huge advantage of trying to incorporating both the personal and corporate phone into one device, which Blackberry also is trying to do with its newly launched OS 10. Samsung arguably has better devices and the OS boasts of huge improvements and features, along with numerous apps. The transition from the traditional personal phone to a dual-use phone is what Samsung hopes to achieve. Aggressive marketing and tie ups with third parties may give Samsung the much needed boost in this sector.
Do you think Samsung will be successful in this new territory? Will Blackberry retain its loyal enterprise customers?
Do let us know what you think in the comments. Let the fight between the two companies begin!