BlackBerry and Office: Still Right for Associations?

Two of the biggest brand names in the enterprise world had major launches this week. Both are trying to adapt as marketplace changes have recalibrated their spots. Can they pull it off?

If you’re a follower of tech news, it might have felt like the headlines earlier this week were transplanted out of 2007.

That’s because the two headliners—BlackBerry and Microsoft Office—were in better shape back then. Can the two mainstays of digital office life keep pace in a changing association landscape—after a little retooling? More thoughts below:

Does BlackBerry Have a Shot?

One of the biggest tech-world highlights this week was Research in Motion’s BlackBerry 10 news conference, which drew attention for the company’s name change (you can call them BlackBerry, guys), its hiring of Alicia Keys, and … oh yeah, its attempt to boldly reinvent its operating system and devices  to catch up with Apple and Google.

Does it have a chance of making a comeback? There are a lot of skeptics on that point but a few who think it can. ZDNet’s Dennis Howlett fits in the latter category—at least in the enterprise world. “Even in a BYOD world, if BB can continue to convince IT that it is a safe choice then it has a decent shot at bolstering its flagging fortunes,” he argues. “However, it will need to roll out convincing case material as quickly as possible.”

And what about that name change? Slate’s Brian Palmer says BlackBerry has a tough road ahead, pointing out that many companies, including Nissan, Exxon, and Unisys, have spent tens of millions of dollars paying for name changes, with mixed results. “When an established company changes names, it’s usually to break out of a slump—and it rarely works,” Palmer argues.

(In case you’re curious about what a BlackBerry 10 world might be like, download this app on your iPhone or Android and you can test things out.)

The Office is Open

Not to be outdone, Microsoft had a big launch of its own this week, throwing the latest version of its Office suite to its users. While the software has gotten a refresh to match the recently released Windows 8, the company is facing tough competition from cloud-based platforms such as Google Apps. To counter that, the company has released the software under a subscription model, the $100-per-year Office 365 service, which turns it into a cloud-enabled program with a web version that’s easy to use on numerous platforms.

But is it worth the upgrade? If you’re looking for something perfect for your iPad or Galaxy Tab, PC World’s Yardena Arar argues: “The cloud-connected Office 365 is potentially a game changer for Microsoft’s Office franchise. In its current incarnation, however, Office on Demand doesn’t offer the type of flexibility and consistency you’d hope for with a web-friendly version of Office.”

(Side note: If you are looking for something a little more tablet-friendly, it’s worth checking out the recently released Evernote Business, which makes the popular note-taking app perfect for interoffice collaboration.)

Is your association ready to jump on another iteration of the Office or BlackBerry bandwagon? Tell us what you’re thinking in the comments.


Ernie Smith

By Ernie Smith

Ernie Smith is a former senior editor for Associations Now. MORE

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