Feature Article

May 16, 2013

BlackBerry Live 2013 Keynote Address, Part 2

The next person to take the stage was Kristian Tear, BlackBerry’s COO. He has been the COO for about nine months now. His emphasis was on the paramount importance of security and protection for enterprise customers. He was happy to mention that the U.S. Department of Defense is still committed to using and working with BB 10 as part of its mobile strategy. For the first half of our coverage on the BlackBerry Live event, click the link.

Tear reminded everyone that “We’ve always been a leader in enterprise management and security. That has not changed." He then mentioned that global launch of BlackBerry Enterprise Service (BES) 10.1. This will be a free upgrade and be a zero cost for the enterprise users. All of the existing licenses will be upgraded for free.

The question of how many people carry two phones was asked. Quite a few people raised their hands. This led into the Balance function of the BB 10 platform. The fact that with BB 10 you only need one phone for all of your business and personal needs was emphasized.

IBM’s chief mobility officer, Kevin McConnell joined Tear on stage. IBM is working with BES 10 and has been testing 500 pilot programs running in 33 countries. All of the users love the Balance feature. In the past, personal passwords were required on all devices, with the Balance feature there is only one password on the enterprise side.

The next member of the mobile team to take the stage was chief marketing officer, Frank Boulben. From a marketing point of view he admitted that there were a lot of broken pieces. There were a variety of brand names basically each type of phone was a brand. There were different campaigns with no continuity. “A year ago, we were becoming a house of brands. Everything is now centered on the BlackBerry brand.”

When the company was re-named BlackBerry, Boulben said, "We've unified our teams across the world into one global marketing organization.” He mentioned that they trained more than 350,000 sales reps across the world.

Boulben talked about the typical BlackBerry user. They are hyper-connected, multi-taskers who are ambitious.

This led into one of their biggest marketing campaigns: The Keep Moving campaign. To talk about this, Alicia Keys came on stage. She is the BlackBerry global creative director. She talked about being crazy energized to be at BlackBerry Live.

She followed this by listing a number of statistics concerning women and the work place. This led to Keys saying, "Today, we're launching the BlackBerry Scholars program which will offer full four-year scholarships to outstanding women candidates around the world." 

In January, when this position was created, the Keep Moving project was also created. BlackBerry is now expanding the project with a grant making program. This grant will be available in the fall. The project supports artists and their vision.

I did mention earlier that cars seem to figure prominently in today’s keynote address. Well we aren’t done yet. Before he left the stage, Boulben said, "When it comes to high tech and sport, there is nothing better than Formula 1." BlackBerry is sponsoring a Formula 1 race car built by Mercedes-Benz.

After reclaiming the stage Heins talked about BlackBerry Messenger and how 10 billion messages are sent every day by 60 million users. This led to the announcement that BlackBerry was introducing BBM Channels. "BBM Channels enables real-time engagement between users and brands." It is being launched today in beta.

So can you guess what one of the channels will be? Here is a clue, Mercedes-Benz AMG Formula 1 driver Lew Hamilton came out on stage. Along with him four men were wheeling out the Formula 1 car. He discussed how as he travels the world he uses BBM to keep in touch with his family. 

No one was able to get near the Bentley at the beginning of the keynote address, however, a luck few people found checkered flags taped to the bottom of their seats. These people had an opportunity to have their pictures taken with Hamilton and the car at the end of the session.

As the address began to wind down, Heins made another announcement. The mobile team decided that it was time to bring BBM to a greater audience. The mobile device that you are using should not keep you from experiencing BBM. Therefore, “This summer, BBM will go across multiple platforms.”

Not only will BBM run on iOS 6 and Android (Ice Cream Sandwich or higher), but it will be free. Heins said, "We're committed to making the BBM experience on other platforms as fully featured as we can. We're starting with messaging and groups, but we'll bring voice, screen share, and of course, channels later on."

There is a reason for going this route. That reason is that this is a statement of confidence on the part of BlackBerry. "BB10 is so strong that we are confident that BBM can become an independent messaging solution."

The real emphasis in today’s keynote address is that BlackBerry is strong, confident and moving ahead. They have almost doubled the numbers of apps that are available for BlackBerry 10, they have made upgrades to the enterprise side and they are pushing ahead with the Keep Moving project. These are all positive, growth items. That was the underlining theme at the event.

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