Can Windows Phone and RIM Survive BYOD?

It has been exciting the past couple of years to watch the rise and dominance of iOS and Android over the established mobile phone platforms of yesterday.  It isn’t every day that shifts in dominance take place, for example Excel overtaking 1-2-3 or Chrome overtaking IE.  Apple’s release of it’s iconic mobile device and subsequent tablet have certainly proved to be a changing of the guard and caused many a competitor to step up their game.

Entire industries have emerged in this new environment   No longer is mobile software development relegated to large capital-laden entities, but anyone who is clever enough can write and distribute their own farting application and become overnight sensations (not to mention overnight rich).  Mobile software development has certainly become the California Gold Rush of this decade.

One advancement birthed from this new technological shift is the idea and term, Bring Your Own Device (BYOD).  BYOD refers to workers purchasing, owning, and using their own technology in their daily work.  Most prominantly, we see this being played out as employees shun their company provided Blackberry devices and feature phones for their iPhone and Android devices of personal use.  This could be accurately viewed as an end-user uprising against the nerd herds.

How It Happened

Here is how I imagine the shift to BYOD occurring:

Crackberry-toting C-level executive’s teenage child comes in one day and asks, “Can I have an iPhone?”

“Sure” is the apathetic response as they executive muses”…kids and their toys…”

But later after seeing the countless Wall Street Journal articles, media hype, and stock-price-parades of the Apple machine, the executive takes a moment to actually see the magic that is smartphonedom.

I imagine this happening at a sports venue where the executive has taken their child to watch their favorite team play.

“Wow, this quarterback is on fire!  I wonder how many yards his thrown for tonight?” wonders the executive out loud.

Tap-tap-tap, a few seconds later and the child replies, “uh, he’s 18 of 22 for 310 yards.”

“Did you get that off of your phone?” asks the executive looking towards their technological genius.  And then, “Hmmmmmm…” as the wheels begin to spin and the executive looks down at their dumpy, barely email processing, corporate provided RIM device.  “What if…” and the story really begins.

The executive probably fought with IT at some level while they pushed back and spread FUD about the insecurity and other worries of a non-standard corporate platform.

Until eventually one day, the executive hearing enough and wanting more purchases their own personal smartphone.  It doesn’t take long before the corporate provided phone is never even looked and and the executive finally declares “make it happen.  Here’s the deal – secure the company property, let them buy their own device (which we don’t have to $pay$ for) and everyone can have their nice shiny toys.

A journalist puts a name to it and wa-la, we now have a fundamental shift and new mobile device paradigm.

It’s BYOD That Makes It Too Little, Too Late

Two key dominant players late to the game are Microsoft and RIM.  There are plenty of great reviews and innovative features from both Windows Phone and Blackberry’s new OS.  I opine that BYOD makes Redmond and Waterloo recent push the timing demise in “too little, too late.”

BYOD is the oasis of device cost and management savings for corporations of all sizes.  Consider how expensive it is to purchase phones, manage those devices, upgrade and swap out every so many years.  And more importantly, that owning a mobile device is the modern equivalent to owning a clothes or dishwasher (not everyone has one, but fewer and fewer people are now without), people are tired of toting around two devices.

With Mobile Number Portability and the lack of adoption of pervasive tools like Google Voice, carrying two mobile phones has become an inconvenience.

Microsoft and RIM’s biggest challenges are going to be getting one of the over 400 million Android and iOS device carrying consumer to switch (read that as quite possibly having to convert music and movie librarier, repurchasing apps or abandoning apps unavailable on a certain platform).  There are only two things that can pry the owners away – Cost and Innovation.  Does Windows Phone or Blackberry have enough of either to pull it off?

BYOD is the unseen stumbling block for resurgence.

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