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iPhones in the office
To begin with, the office wasn’t seen as the natural habitat for an iPhone, which is mainly focussed on being king of consumer desire. But since launching in 2007 it has worked its way into the workplace. When it comes to practicality though, how does the iPhone fare as a business tool? In most users hands the iPhone is an excellent business tool allowing full email, calendar and browsing plus a wealth of application driven productivity.
Tech-savvy companies have made the most of this and created their own apps, or picked one out from the app store to suit whatever function helps their business.
So why don’t we see more iPhones at work? The reason is simple: security. IT managers are understandably reluctant to let employees exchange sensitive company or client information in a device that could share it with other installed apps. By far the biggest fear in the IT office is the risk of sensitive data being shared over cloud-based apps including DropBox or Apple’s own iCloud. IT departments worldwide have searched for a secure solution – but have they overlooked BlackBerry’s long legacy on this front?
BlackBerry Z10 gets to work
Out the box, the Z10 is pretty similar to the iPhone in terms of functionality. You can easily setup your emails using POP3 /IMAP for public accounts and ActiveSync for corporate email. This is the first time BlackBerry has let you use ActiveSync, showing their willingness to remove any barriers to ease of use.
Social media integration is a big part of the Z10, as it has always been with the iPhone. As well as FaceBook and Twitter, the Z10 plays to BlackBerry’s business mentality by including LinkedIn in the setup process. BlackBerry Messaging (BBM) has had a revamp with its new BBM Voice service which is not only available in the Z10 but also to any previous devices running operating system version 6 or higher. So you can make long distance calls for free over Wifi, which businesses have been crying out for some time now in the face of high international call costs. If that wasn’t enough, the Z10 includes its own enhanced version of Apple’s FaceTime. Not only does the BBM Video service allow you to make free face-to-face video calls across WiFi, but you can even use the clever Screen-Share tool to go through work together, including documents, spreadsheets, websites or apps.
There are other great out-the-box services on the Z10.
- Doc to Go – This allows the user to create and edit Word, Excel and to view and edit PowerPoint files. If you’re presenting, you can use micro-HDMI to plug directly into a TV or projector.
- Print to BlackBerry – A new feature for the Z10 and BlackBerry PlayBook. It allows you to virtually print anything to your BlackBerry. You just install an application onto a PC and you can then print from any office application directly to your Z10,.
- DLNA – This makes streaming of videos, pictures and music easy across your network. So you can playback your BlackBerry content on your TV. I tried this out successfully on my LG TV and Samsung Blu-Ray player, with no lag and great resolution. Ok, so it’s not strictly a business application, but it could come in handy for sharing corporate videos or slide-shows if you don’t have compatible cables handy.
Has BlackBerry cracked the app market?
BlackBerry is pushing aggressively on the app store front as well with the newly rebranded BlackBerry World including 70,000 apps ready for the Z10. While this isn’t as many as in the matured Apple Store, it’s a strong initial launch number, with many more apps on the way thanks to the open-source app development system. This not only allows a more straight forward development program but allows for a quick port of existing applications. BlackBerry has really removed barriers here, and will even help you get an app up and running in just a few hours. I managed to create a simple one in 10 minutes. – Check it out here.
Where is your data safest?
So far there’s little difference between the iPhone and Z10. But in most businesses, there will probably be existing systems and handsets already in place. Although it would be nice to switch everyone to a nice new smartphone, this isn’t usually practical. So, while a few senior people might take on a top-level smartphone, they still need to communicate with all other employees but often require greater and more secure access to corporate data. This is where the BlackBerry Z10 takes itself above the other smartphone offerings with connection to BlackBerry Enterprise Service 10 (BES 10).
Not only will IT managers be able to ensure continuing corporate security with the Z10, they can do this within the same infrastructure as their existing user base. This gives you the same access to corporate data without having to employ a separate management service or additional VPN (BES10 will be the secure gateway for intranet and other internal web-based services). Corporate file-shares mean users won’t have to rely on cloud-based systems outside IT management control – Users will be able to continue communicating within corporate or private BBM groups, only with the enhanced BBM Voice and BBM Video features.
So which device is better for business? I’ve always seen each BlackBerry handset iteration as an evolution rather than revolution. Looking at the Z10 though, you have to say this is more revolutionary for BlackBerry. However, it retains enough BlackBerry DNA to be able to communicate with the older members of the family, so will sit well among your existing BlackBerry base.
With BES10 though, you don’t have to choose which you prefer. As it’s open to other devices, your company directors can still have their iPhones (although after playing with the BlackBerry Z10 they might not want to) and your IT manager can make sure they’re managed through a robust system. In fact, BES 10 lets you securely manage pretty much any mobile device including older BlackBerrys, Android phones and tablets. BES 10 is also free of charge, requiring only a one-off license fee for each connected device (whether it’s BlackBerry 10, iOS or Android).
So, while the Z10 has been designed from the ground up with businesses and connectivity in mind, BES 10 gives you more choice.
Ofcom have announced the winners in the 4G mobile spectrum auction.
After more than 50 rounds of bidding, Vodafone Ltd, Telefónica UK Ltd, Everything Everywhere Ltd, Hutchison 3G UK Ltd and Niche Spectrum Ventures Ltd (a subsidiary of BT Group plc) have all won spectrum. This is suitable for rolling out new superfast mobile broadband services to consumers and to small and large businesses across the UK.
So what does this mean for you?
Telefonica UK (O2) and Vodafone UK have already begun their joint project to share network infrastructure providing a more robust GSM and 3G service providing 98% population coverage for voice and data for 2015.
Obtaining a license from the Ofcom auction was the next step. The infrastructure improvements have been designed as a platform for 4G. Vodafone and O2 can start rolling out 4G services to consumers which is expected in spring or early summer 2013.
Obviously this will be great news if your handset is 4G but will also benefit other smartphone or tablet users. 4G is not necessarily the Kevin Bacon experience of downloading entire movies whilst on a park bench but more the intention is to provide the brunt of the data services. This alleviates the burden on the presently taxed 2G and 3G networks which will improve our general speeds all round and ensure better GSM voice service (results in less dropped calls).
A further stage of the auction will be the assignment of specific locations for the spectrum wins. UK networks will be jostling to make the lower bandwidths in urban areas are used for better in-building coverage whilst relying on the 2.6 GHz spectrum to provide the greater general area coverage.
View the full Ofcom story here.