Research in Motion’s new BlackBerry Torch 9850 is the company’s first true touchscreen model. With no pull-out keyboard and no click-screen, using it feels one step closer to other popular smartphones like iPhone and Android.
To IT departments, the new BlackBerry Torch 9850 may look like the best of both smartphone worlds—easy, beautiful web navigation on a big touchscreen, along with strong data security in the form of the BlackBerry Enterprise Server platform.
So is this new BlackBerry an opportunity for businesses to avoid making room mobile infrastructure upgrades while still providing a business phone employees will like using? After all, BlackBerry is still king in business. According to a study by TNS early this year, BlackBerry use across all businesses was 69 percent, and among companies with more than 1,000 employees, it was 81 percent.
According to a recent Pew Research Center study, 87 percent of smartphone owners use their phones to access email and the Internet, so as a business-issued phone, the new high-res 3.7-inch, touchscreen on the Torch 9850 presents an appealing option. However, most businesses don’t issue just-released models to employees immediately.
In fact, employees increasingly are asking IT departments to let them use their personal devices for business. According to a study by Forrester, 55 percent of corporations polled now allow employees to use their personal phones for work. Those personal devices often are something other than a BlackBerry. According to Pew, about one-third (35 percent) of Americans own some kind of smartphone. Among those who use smartphones, 35 percent use a phone that operates on Google’s Android system, while 24 percent each use an iPhone or BlackBerry.
Torch 9850 has a couple strikes that may stunt its widespread personal adoption. For starters, serious BlackBerry fans are fanatics about having a physical keyboard. But even if they get past the lack of one, the dearth of apps available for this Torch’s upgraded 7.0 BlackBerry operating system may present a barrier. According to All Things D, the Torch 9850 offers “thousands” of available apps among the 35,000 apps available in BlackBerry App World. By comparison Apple’s App Store offers 425,000 apps and Google’s Android Market offers more than 250,000. For employees looking to consolidate their business and personal needs into one mobile device, this turns out to be a pretty big deal.
So for companies that need to stick with BlackBerry Enterprise Server, the Torch 9850 may eventually be a great compromise between IT and employees. But companies that are already letting employees use their own phones for business aren’t like to see BlackBerry regaining popularity over iPhone or Android.
The all-touch Torch 9850 is available now on Sprint. BlackBerry has also introduced two other new touchscreen models that also have physical keyboards, the Bold 9930, available on Sprint or Verizon, and the Torch 9810, available on AT&T.