Over on Howard Forums there is an interesting thread that started off with a feature wish list for the rumored next gen BlackBerry known as the BlackBerry Electron but has morphed into a debate about BlackBerry security. The whole conversation has me wondering if there should be corporate and personal versions of the next generation of BlackBerry handheld devices?
Let me first say that I love my BlackBerry, think that it is one of the greatest gadgets ever invented, and wouldn’t trade it for anything except a newer BlackBerry with more features. This, however, doesn’t mean that features such as fully functional Bluetooth, a memory slot, and possibly even a digital camera wouldn’t be appealing to many BlackBerry users and more importantly, new BlackBerry users.
The overwhelming majority of the over 6 million current BlackBerry users use their devices for work in some capacity, more likely than not, connected to a BlackBerry Enterprise Server. A very secure device in a corporate environment makes sense and is even one of the selling points of the BlackBerry and BES platform.
6 million Blackberry users as compared to the total number of PDA users, however, is a fairly insignificant number. Let’s not even make that comparison to the total number of mobile phone users. That number is probably just a rounding error. Research in Motion should be seriously concerned with what their next wave of potential subscribers will want, and even expect in a PDA.
My guess it that it will be terribly difficult to convert a Pocket PC, Windows Mobile, or Palm PDA user that has become accustomed to memory slots, built-in digital cameras, and fully functional wireless capabilities, especially when there are alternatives to the BlackBerry. If RIM wants to stay on top, they are going to have to offer more features. They can keep their corporate versions of the BlackBerry as secure as they are today, but they may want to think about offering a personal version that has some of the features that some of the other big PDA manufacturers are offering.
I think currently the idea is not to tarnish the image of BlackBerry security and leverage 3rd party manufactures to offer these features to consumers through the BlackBerry Built-In or Connect licenses. With that said, as a consumer and user of BlackBerry handhelds, I’de much prefer the camera to be on my BlackBerry, but in an office where cameras are not allowed I am glad my BlackBerry does not have one.