In a surprise move, BlackBerry has announced its purchase of Good Technology. Enterprise mobility management (EMM) is one of my main areas of focus here at Info-Tech, so this is big news in my little world. Here are some initial thoughts:
- This isn’t surprising. We’ve been expecting consolidation in the EMM space since the days when it was just a few small vendors doing it. In the past few years, those small fish have been gobbled up by bigger fish, and now the market is dominated by the terrors of the enterprise seas. BlackBerry may having sagging fins and a few missing scales, but it’s still just another step along the expected path to EMM consolidation.
- This is surprising. BlackBerry isn’t like some of the big acquirers (think VMware acquiring AirWatch) that were missing an EMM product and bought into the market. One could argue that BlackBerry invented EMM with BES, and BES 12 is a perfectly decent, but lagging, cross-platform management suite. Now they’ve acquired Good Technology which is … a decent but lagging cross-platform management suite. What gap is BlackBerry filling? (Hah, “blackberry filling.”)
- Is this a joint admission of defeat? This seems like two dinosaurs linking arms in hopes of taking a stand against the meteor. BlackBerry failed to evolve when consumerization brought better hardware, and related management technology, into their enterprise territory. Good failed to evolve when those same forces made users realize they’re perfectly able to get work done without a clunky pain-in-the-butt locked-down container. So they’re both behind other EMM vendors, and maybe this is an admission that they need each other’s help to catch up. They can put their enterprise experience and patents together to go (somehow) take back the territory being ravaged by VMware, Citrix, IBM, and MobileIron.
- What is MobileIron going to do? They’re the last major pure-play EMM vendor left (except maybe SOTI). MobileIron has been stubborn about moving forward without the backing of a larger vendor, developing its own technology when it can, and forming strong partnerships when it can’t. It has fiercely defended its patents against other vendors—such as Good—to remain self-sufficient. But then again, AirWatch seemed like it was doing fine on its own before VMware came along. I just wonder who would grab MobileIron. Google? Samsung? Amazon’s been making some insane moves. Maybe a telecom company like AT&T or Verizon will purchase MobileIron instead of just selling it under a different name.
So, we are living in interesting times for EMM. As it gains footholds in areas like Windows 10 management and the Internet of Thing, moving beyond mobility alone (and maybe needing a new acronym), it will continue to be interesting. It remains to be seen if BlackBerry and Good can form some supergroup that takes back the enterprise stage, or if this acquisition is just the wailing of two dying cats.
[I’m sorry that I can’t decide if EMM vendors are fish, dinosaurs, or musical cats. It’s the Friday before a long weekend and my metaphor skills are like a … sort of like … um … they’re bad.]