Android on BlackBerry Is Looking More Real

android-blackberryIf BlackBerry adopts Android, it likely means it will have to back away from its own OS — but then again, it hasn’t exactly been making strides with BB 10. “The reality is that it’s declining to follow its OS into oblivion,” said tech analyst Stephen Blum. “You’re seeing exactly the same thing going on at Microsoft now, where Android is getting more attention.”

BlackBerry’s upcoming slider handset, aka “Venice,” will run on Android and will be available in the coming months for AT&T as well as T-Mobile, according to rumors that picked up steam over the weekend.

This is not the first time rumors of a BlackBerry device running on Android have made the rounds in the blogosphere.

BlackBerry earlier this year announced a cross-platform strategy with its BlackBerry Experience Suite at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, and it unveiled a slider handset, which combined a touchscreen with a physical keyboard, at the show.

BlackBerry didn’t confirm that the slider would run Android, but rumors suggested it could be designed to appeal to traditional BlackBerry users, as well as a niche market of Android-users who prefer a physical keyboard.

Renders of the BlackBerry Venice published on Saturday suggest that the specs include an 18-MP camera with OIS. The device appears to have the same glass weave pattern found on the BlackBerry Z30.
The BlackBerry Burn Rate

Rumors of BlackBerry’s adoption of Android may be plausible — especially since the company’s efforts to recapture lost market share with its own BlackBerry 10 operating system have fallen short of expectations.

“No one is really picking BlackBerry for their OS anymore, so they have to do something radical,” said Roger Entner, principal analyst at Recon Analytics.

“There are only a couple million BlackBerry users left, but the burn rate is 2 million, so BlackBerry will literally vanish in a few years,” he told the E-Commerce Times.

BlackBerry is feverishly trying to find its way in the world, observed Stephen Blum, principal analyst at Tellus Venture Associates.

“Historically, it’s had three core competencies: an operating system; hardware manufacturing; and secure platform for enterprise software,” Blum added. “Email is the most well known example of the latter, but BlackBerry also has document handling and basic security capabilities too.”

BlackBerry on Android

BlackBerry has tried to bring its enterprise software to other OS platforms, and Android is the likeliest candidate for that, Blum told the E-Commerce Times.

“Apple is unlikely, to say the least, to let BlackBerry into the iOS ecosystem in any meaningful way,” he noted, “so to generate value from its enterprise platform, it has to get into the Android world. Making a handset that integrates the BlackBerry enterprise platform with the Android OS is the logical way to demonstrate how well it works, and it lets BlackBerry leverage its manufacturing core competency, or at least wring some final value out of it.”

This pivot likely means that BlackBerry will have to back away from its own OS — but then again, it hasn’t exactly been making strides with its own OS for some time.

“The reality is that it’s declining to follow its OS into oblivion,” said Blum. “You’re seeing exactly the same thing going on at Microsoft now, where Android is getting more attention as the company tries to position itself as a cross-platform service provider.”

The Benefits of Android

By addressing the issue now, BlackBerry easily could transition to a device maker, and reap the other benefits that Android offers.

“It opens up a huge app universe to BlackBerry users, while at the same time will ensure that many corporate and government users will have access to the improved security built around email,” added Recon’s Entner.

“It is a win-win for both Android overall and BlackBerry in particular,” he suggested.

The loser — if there is one — could be those who opt to rely on Google’s Chromecast.

“BlackBerry may opt to disable Chromecast, as it has been seen as an easy way to leak data from a device,” said Entner. “There are creditable threats on Android, and federal and corporate users can’t really be too careful — so BlackBerry could provide them a way to add the security to Android devices.”

In the end, BlackBerry may even provide its services on the back end to Android devices instead of actually making hardware.

“If there’s any value left in BlackBerry,” said Tellus Venture’s Blum, “it’s in the enterprise platform and not the OS or manufacturing.”


Mobile Business Apps Still Need The Right Mobile Device Mobile Business App Usage In The Field

Mobile Business Apps Still Need The Right Mobile Device Mobile Business App Usage In The Field
By Bob Ashenbrenner, Xplore Technologies

“I love it when a plan comes together.” That famous quote from the A-Team’s character Hannibal Smith is how we feel after seeing this recent Canvas poll confirming that the most popular use cases for mobile business apps are:

-Conducting inspections
-Filling out work orders
-Compiling checklists
-Conducting surveys
We’ve been supporting these workflows with purpose-built mobile devices for years, focusing on making the work quicker, easier and more accurate. So these 1,600 decision makers across the construction and contracting, field services, retail and distribution, healthcare, manufacturing, and transportation and logistics industries, as well as government, did not necessarily give us “new” news. After all, Xplore’s core customer base for the past 15+ years has been engrained in these very industries, and one of our foremost goals has been to support these specific workflows in the mobile environment.

But what these survey findings did do, very clearly I might add, is validate our business and the greater purpose of rugged mobile devices – and specifically rugged tablet PCs – in these specific verticals.

Think about it? When was the last time you *comfortably* filled out a checklist of more than a few items on your mobile device using your finger alone? It’s doable, sure. But it’s not fast, nor efficient. The data input boxes are small; your fingers probably not so much. A digital pen would certainly help, making the experience more conducive to the pen and paper input methods that these apps replicate.

Or what about trying to manually input a barcode number without a scanner? Making sure you don’t miss a single digit to avoid having to start over. Sure, you could carry a separate scanner to address that issue. Many workers have done that in the past. But that only creates a new challenge: Requiring workers to occupy their hands with yet another device. Not very mobile-friendly in my opinion. And camera-based scanners are good, but not good enough for productive work. Large, clear and close barcodes can be read about 90% of the time, a far cry from dedicated scanners that regularly read barcodes that are not that close, are damaged, or small.

Now, think about how these two specific data input/use case challenges could hinder job speed and productivity for a utility field service worker or a police officer, for example. One can only imagine the potential consequences of not being able to complete an inspection report fast enough, access and update a patient’s data, or run a background check that could reduce not only operational efficiency, but more importantly public safety or customer satisfaction.

Of course, some argue that’s why a laptop or notebook is a more viable choice for mobile data input. Just mount one in the vehicle and you have a “mobile” office from which you can access your most critical workflows, right? Absolutely not. Have you ever tried to take a picture while standing with your laptop outside? Not happening. And adding a camera or a barcode scanner alone to a laptop or even smartphone just makes those devices even less accommodating in mobile environment – such as in a forklift or on top of a high-rise in the middle of downtown.

Not having an all-in-one mobile solution limits not only what workers can do when away from the vehicle, but how quickly they can do them.

Plus, in this same survey, Canvas found that one-third of enterprises used more than five mobile business applications last year. Want to guess which features these mobile business apps required most often ?

Image capture
Electronic signature
Workflow management
GPS location
Considering that these verticals are not just extending a single workflow from the office to the mobile environment, a slate tablet form factor is the only way an organization can create the entire mobile computing experience needed for them to achieve a fully functioning workforce, no matter where the job site may be.

I’m not being biased because of who I work for either. It is very difficult to argue a single counterpoint to tablets’ advantages for rugged mobile workflows. Rugged doesn’t have to mean off-road, “down in the dirt” rural job sites either. Doctors and nurses working in hospitals need the protection and stability of purpose-built mobile devices and they can’t afford to have downtime for any reason – especially when updating and accessing patient records could mean life or death. That’s why so many of these industries are finally understanding why they have to look beyond BYOD.

Even beyond the aforementioned data input advantages that tablet PCs present in the field, they are really the only computing solution that can seamlessly transition – without variance in processing power or workflow completion capabilities – from the office, into the vehicle and then the field. Rugged tablets are even better, giving users the exact same data input and access experience whether the tablet is in their hands while standing 20 feet underground, sitting in their truck’s dashboard mount or docked on their desk in the office. No slowing down to capture, share or access data. That, in my opinion, is the top benefit of having the right mobile device for the job – especially in a rugged enterprise environment.

Key takeaway: A mobile app (or workflow) is only as good as the device delivering it. Just as serving soup on a plate or trying to hammer in a nail with a screwdriver don’t make sense, trying to increase worker productivity by simply dropping a business app on any “mobile” smartphone or laptop does not make it the right mobile workflow solution. In fact, doing so would only defeat the purpose of the mobile investment (app or device) and send you back to square one soon enough. If you’re going to spend the money on an app, why not make sure it’s primed to reach its full potential from the start?

What to consider when choosing handheld devices for the enterprise.


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  • How enterprises should consider the cost of field mobility
  • How enterprises are currently supporting the activities of field workers
  • What 2015 holds for the use of mobile applications and devices
  • The priorities for effective field mobility
  • The common issues associated with off-the-shelf smartphones
  • Why purpose-built, enterprise smartphones can be the better option for businesses long term

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IoT Is (Finally) Permeating Field Service

IoT Is (Finally) Permeating Field Service

By Sarah Nicastro, publisher/editor in chief, Field Technologies

The Internet of Things (IoT) refers to an ecosystem of devices or products connected with M2M (machine-to-machine) technology that are able to communicate information through (most commonly) cellular or (sometimes) satellite network connections. Want to know what I find most interesting about IoT at the moment? How much it’s being talked about in the industry right now. Field Technologies first began covering M2M in June of 2008. That first article was likely met with a lot of blank stares and glossed-over eyes. Why? The majority of the field service industry just wasn’t ready for M2M or IoT quite yet.

We’ve witnessed an evolution since then, though, and the industry is definitely ready now. At WBR Field Service USA and The Service Council Smarter Services Symposium events in April, M2M and IoT were among the most buzzed-about topics. It’s exciting to me, because even back in ’08 I saw the incredible potential of what M2M technology could do for the field service industry. And now, it’s great to hear those conversations being led by field service companies wanting to learn more and understand how IoT can impact their businesses, versus the industry driving the dialogue.

Why IoT In Field Service Now?
The uses for IoT in field service are vast — far too vast for me to go into here. But the value proposition the technology holds for the field service market is universal — M2M connections provide valuable insight into what’s going on with your products/assets in the field. This information enables you to a.) better understand what techs will encounter on-site so that they can arrive prepared and achieve a first-time fix, or b.) remotely resolve an issue that doesn’t require an on-site visit, eliminating the need for a truck roll altogether. There are far more benefits to discuss another time, but I think those two advantages alone are contributing to a lot of the buzz we’re hearing today about the growing role of IoT in field service.