BlackBerry Enterprise Forum 2012 – Toronto Recap

BlackBerry Enterprise Forum 2012 kicked things off at the Sheraton Hotel on Thursday, October 11 in downtown Toronto. Andrew McLeod, managing director of RIM’s Canadian operations, greeted a full house at the half-day event targeting RIM’s business customers.

The latest statistics from Research in Motion:

80 million+ subscribers
3 billion+ BlackBerry App World downloads
650+ partners in 175 countries
60 million+ BBM users
90% of Fortune 500 companies use BlackBerry solutions

McLeod stated the new RIM would be focused on solving the challenges of BYOD (Bring Your Own Device), managing enterprise apps, and concentrating on cloud services and mobile apps. He outlined the company’s R+D investment pillars, including the new BlackBerry 10 operating system; BlackBerry Balance, a new technology aimed squarely at solving the issues of security with BYOD; BlackBerry Enterprise Server 10 (BES 10); and cloud-based device management. Recognizing that not all customers would be making an immediate switch to BES 10, McLeod made it clear that RIM would be supporting BES 5.0 until the end of 2015.

During the conference, RIM gave live demos of BlackBerry Mobile Fusion, BlackBerry PlayBook Citrix Receiver, and of course, BlackBerry 10.

BlackBerry Mobile Fusion, a tool to help IT departments control multiple types of devices, including Android and iOS, uses one unified console. A key feature of Mobile Fusion is that it’s web-based, so IT can manage the devices on-site or remotely. It also has the ability to detect jail broken devices and automatically prompt the user for compliance or remove them from the company server. During the demo for BlackBerry PlayBook Citrix Receiver, a solution that enables users to run a virtual Windows desktop on their tablet, RIM noted their presentation slides were running on a PlayBook.

BlackBerry 10

Giving the demo of BB10 Dev Alpha B, Jeff Gadway said the focus of BlackBerry 10 was “flow”.

Describing BB10 users as “hyperconnected” and “crazy multi-taskers”, Gadway reiterated RIM’s commitment to bringing more apps to BB10 at time of launch, currently scheduled for end of Q1 2013. On Wednesday, October 10 (that is, 10/10), BlackBerry App World started accepting BB10 app submissions. Back in May 2012, RIM distributed over 5,000 BB10 Dev Alpha A devices to developers.

Notable features of BB10:
– The “Peek” feature, allowing users to peek at their BlackBerry Hub displaying incoming notifications with one seamless gesture, regardless of what window or app they are in. This minimizes disruptions, since the user no longer needs to exit their program to check the importance of a notification.
– BlackBerry Balance, which separates personal and corporate content, allowing IT to remove all work-related files while leaving everything else intact. This also benefits the BYOD user, for example when pulling up photos on their camera Balance separates personal photos from work-related snaps.
– RIM has moved to the virtual keyboard and minimized latency to improve response times when typing. Word predictions hover over keys as opposed to in its own row, and surprisingly, it even recognizes foreign languages. The new keyboard also has a feature called heat mapping, which allows the device to detect how a user’s fingers tend to hit certain keys and adapts itself accordingly.
– Timeshift for the BB10 camera: After taking a photo, users can drag a pin to move the photo to a certain point in time, in case someone’s eyes are closed. While the user still controls when the actual photo is being taken, the camera is simultaneously capturing extra frames. Timeshift lets the user pick the best photos and composes them as one shot. The live demo of Timeshift still looked rough when Gadway showed it off, but this was one of the more unique features of BB10.
– The new built-in CRM feature in the Calendar: Essentially enabling users to more easily keep tabs on their contacts, clicking on the name of a meeting attendee allows for instant tracking of recent contact touch points and social media feeds and headlines.

At the end of the BlackBerry Enterprise Forum, attendees were given one more chance to take advantage of the BlackBerry cell spa before collecting their free pair of BlackBerry gloves – timely, considering the weather in Toronto today.

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