Enterprise increasingly dropping Blackberry in favour of Windows Phone

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UK publication Computerweekly has been talking to some IT folk in business and government in UK and found they are increasingly planning on ditching moribund Blackberry and moving to Windows Phone.

Andrew McManus, IT director, NEC Group, has around 250 BlackBerrys which he wants to replace with Nokia Lumia 625s and 925s in the Spring.

“Now I find the Windows devices more compelling,” he said. “You get seamless connection into our back-end Microsoft systems, so a tablet that looks pretty much like an iPad gives you access to Exchange, all of our systems, ERP [enterprise resource planning]. As well as all the nice tablet functions people like,” said McManus.

“Price-wise, it is about the same too. Why wouldn’t we go down that route?”

McManus also said he was planning to replace previous deployments of Apple iPads with Windows 8-based tablets.

“What I want to be able to do with Windows is to give people access to data in real time so events managers can see everything happening at their show. You can do that on iOS, but trying to grab something out of a SQL server is a lot more complicated,” he said.

“I think we will end up with Windows through and through for all of our tablet uses.”

Rob Bamforth, principal analyst of business communications at analyst firm Quocirca, notes Blackberry handsets lack the productivity features of Windows Phone.

“As the BlackBerry has been such a strong corporate device, then it should be no surprise that Windows Phone devices have more appeal (especially to corporate IT) than either Android or iOS devices – which are more likely to have stronger consumer and self-chooser appeal,” he said.

Windows Phone is also often the cheaper option.

Boris Hurinek, CTO of software services group Eurobase, notes for the price of a fourth generation iPhone, Hurinek was able to buy eight Windows Lumia 520 devices.

“We chose to migrate, as we needed a reliable and future-proof platform that would deliver productivity, security, a wide range of business applications, user friendliness and easy migration and support and integration with our existing infrastructure,” he said.

“The statement of cheap and cheerful wasn’t the case for with these phones. They were significantly cheaper than iPhone and they were seen as a really powerful devices,” he said.

“They are a fully functional, productive platform – even though they cost only a fraction of the iPhone.”

Hurinek also found the phones fully integrated with the corporate IT system.

“It just worked the first time,” he says.

“It was so easy and another reason the number of business applications that are available out of the box, so we rolled out windows phone without having to install any external applications.”

The phones were ready to go with business email, SkyDrive, as well as Office 365, saving IT a lot of set-up time.

It is not just CIOs in the private sector who looking at Windows Phone, but also government services.

Andy Beale, common technology services lead in the office of the CTO at the Government Digital Service (GDS) is part of the project to overhaul Cabinet Office IT. He said the GDS is currently looking at all options, including BlackBerry, Windows, iOS and Android as part of the Cabinet Office IT strategy. However other government departments have already written off BlackBerry as part of its future-proofed mobile solution.

Jeremy Boss, head of IT Department for Energy and Climate Change, said the department is planning to switch from BlackBerrys to smartphones running Windows 8 for a third of its 1,800 strong staff.

“The advantage to us is Windows 8 is aligned to the same security model we use for our laptops,” Boss said.

Ritchie Martin, CTO at DECC said: “The business case was that Windows 8 is cheaper and better aligned to user needs to go down the smartphone route rather than stick with BlackBerry. There’s less work for us to do to integrate a Windows 8 smartphone device than there would be for us to do something with Apple.”

UK used to be one of Blackberry’s strongest western markets, but the OS now has around 3% market share and dropping, while Windows Phone has more than 10%, according to recent Kantar numbers.  It is likely that cannibalizing Blackberry’s installed base will drive Windows Phone growth for some time to come.

Read more at Computerweekly here.

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