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Is Blackberry’s Freemium Strategy the Right Approach to Gain Share in the EMM Market?

IraMichaelBlonder
IraMichaelBlonder
May 5, 2014

Last week Gartner hosted a short, free-of-charge webcast on BYOD. The webcast was led by David A. Willis, a Senior Research Analyst at Gartner. The material presented in the webcast was collected from the responses of a sample of enterprise businesses to a series of questions about BYOD. A substantial majority of respondents (more than 85%) indicated a decision to invest in an Enterprise Mobile Management (EMM) solution.

As Mr. Willis noted, enterprise consumers of EMM solutions have a lot of choices. A number of ISVs (including IBM) compete in the market. In fact, Mr. Willis announced Gartner’s plan to publish a Magic Quadrant on this market sometime during the second quarter of 2014, which, one may argue, indicates the promise of the market as well as the intensity of competition for a share within it. Presumably, Blackberry® Enterprise Service 10 (BES10) is a contender in this market.

But does Blackberry’s EZ Pass campaign, which offers enterprise customers a “free pass to secure multi-platform Enterprise Mobility Management” make sense, especially for a company with an announced intention to transition from a revenue model built on hardware sales, to one built around enterprise software? In contrast, the online promotional content on IBM’s MobileFirst Managed Mobility Service neither includes any pricing information, nor a free offer, nor, finally, anything similar to these promotional tactics. The page, on the other hand, is used to present viewers with more traditional choices: white paper downloads, free research on the topics (BYOD and EMM), etc.

Blackberry’s “freemium” approach, in my opinion, would be the right tactic to use if EMM market prospects either have little familiarity with BYOD (and the related management requirements to successfully implement it for an enterprise business), or if EMM market prospects are displaying a lack of interest in Blackberry’s own offer. Based on Gartner’s results, it is safe to say a large section of likely consumers of a solution like BES10 are familiar with the drivers underpinning the EMM market.

So I am left to conclude Blackberry is facing a lot of resistance to BES10 and, therefore, is heavily promoting the BES10 giveaway. I do not consider this strategy a positive indicator of success for Mr. John C. Chen’s plan to transition from hardware sales to enterprise software sales. I expect the intensity of the “freemium” campaign will increase as Gartner gets closer to publishing the Magic Quadrant I mentioned above.

Disclaimer: I’m long Blackberry, with no present position in IBM and no affiliation to Gartner

Ira Michael Blonder

© IMB Enterprises, Inc. & Ira Michael Blonder, 2014 All Rights Reserved

BYOD
  • Ira Michael Blonder calls on over thirty five years of experience marketing, promoting & selling tangible and intangible products and services within his consulting practice. He has first hand experience with several very early stage businesses targeted to Fortune 100 customers. The common thread between these early stage efforts is that product and/or service offerings incorporated computer technology. He is an excellent choice for a CEO in need of a trusted advisor as products, promotion and sales are planned.

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