Finally, the big question remains on what the corporate installed base of BlackBerry users will do. The overall subscriber base diminished from 79 to 76 million this past quarter, after peaking at 80 million last summer. From the 76 million total, we estimate that about 20 million are corporate users, with consumers making up the rest. Enterprise customers received the BB7 devices "for free," being fully subsidized by operators.
However, the price of the BB10 devices doubled to $600, and the carriers will certainly be reluctant to cover all of the difference. Enterprises might contribute some, but the employees will be faced with the decision of whether or not to pay about $200 for a BB10 device versus investing that in another device such as a Galaxy3 from Samsung or an iPhone.
In the past, the same employees got the older RIM device free from their companies (including service) and in return agreed to carry two handsets (the RIM device for work and another model for personal use). In other words, what used to be strictly a corporate IT-based decision (which favored security, encryption, and proprietary system) is turning into a consumer-based decision, in a BYOD world. This illustrates the attention being paid by BlackBerry to applications and the BB10 ecosystem. It will be vital for the company's fortunes to convert as many of those lucrative corporate users to BB10 as possible.
Ronald Gruia is the program leader and principal analyst at Frost & Sullivan covering emerging telecommunications solutions. He is available at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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