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What does BYOD mean for smartphone manufacturers?

The "bring your own device" (BYOD) movement is a growing trend which sees more employee-owned mobiles and tablets being used within the workplace. But to what extent is it affecting smartphone manufacturers?

Take BlackBerry for instance. The company relies heavily upon enterprise customers now, more than ever before, as it faces an uphill battle to survive, let alone regain its place as one of the top five leading phone makers. When BlackBerry launched its first smartphone back in 2003, BYOD, as a concept didn't exist, because smartphones were an expensive, niche market back then.

Smartphones are the most common example of devices used for BYOD, but that also includes tablets, laptops, USB drives, and even software, brought in from outside an organisation. A report from Gartner noted that "the ubiquity of smartphones and the increasing popularity of tablets are changing both the way consumers embrace devices and business device strategies."

It's still a fairly new practice, but more and more companies are starting to turn their attentions to BYOD, because not only does it cut costs, but it also eliminates the need to carry more than one smartphone.

Cutting down costs

Research firm ARC Chart predicts that BYOD could cost the smartphone industry around $40bn in potential revenue by 2016. To keep itself in the smartphone race, BlackBerry went on to introduce BlackBerry Balance (opens in new tab), which was first showcased on BB7 OS. The technology is designed to keep work and personal information secure, while allowing users to stay connected with other aspects of their lives.

Switching between the two interfaces is done with a simple tap of a button, and in the event that you change your job, your IT administrator will be able to wipe the work section of the handset, without affecting the personal side. But is this going to be enough to encourage bulk-buying business buyers? Back in its heyday the Canadian manufacturer's solid infrastructure appealed to many organisations, which simply weren't able to achieve a high level of security on their own.

BlackBerry's success was short lived after failing to update its operating system as quickly as its rivals, and as a result, it lost a significant number of business users to Apple and Android, which currently stands as the world's most popular mobile platform.

Keeping things secure

According to Gartner, half of employees across the globe are projected to be using their own devices in the enterprise by 2017. As a result manufacturers, like Microsoft, are now also taking BYOD into consideration with its next line of products, meaning even more competition for BlackBerry.

Microsoft's next generation of software and services will offer mobile device management, making it even easier for those using Microsoft's platform to administer the BYOD process and control the level of access devices have to certain networks. The firm describes its latest innovations as "people-centric IT", but essentially this just means its new software will allow administrators to enhance security divisions on employee owned devices.

Security and confidentiality are two huge areas of concern for many businesses, and with an influx of employee-owned devices connecting to corporate networks, the risks are no doubt going to increase. That said, the movement is already proving to be hugely popular and is showing no signs of slowing down any time soon.

While some companies may not be ready for the BYOD trend, they can no longer afford to ignore the fact that many of their employees may already be using their work phones for personal reasons and vice versa, without their consent.

Telecoms analyst Ovum found one third of smartphone owners are using their own devices without their IT departments knowing, stating that when it comes to having a BYOD policy in place "now is the time to grasp the nettle" because "it is not going away".

Innovation is the key to success

Organisations have been providing their employees with devices for quite some time, but even phone deals are an expensive investment for those buying in large quantities. Work phones allow employees to stay connected while they're out of the office, but as smartphones and tablets gain popularity workers are likely to continue to push for the BYOD trend to be fully adopted in their workplace.

Over the years, BlackBerry has bought some truly impressive innovations to the enterprise and mobile markets alike and there's no doubt that the company's business prowess has helped pave the way for the BYOD movement.

Earlier this year, the Blackberry Z10 (opens in new tab) and Q10 (opens in new tab) proved to be hugely popular amongst business users, but sales figures still remain well below what they once were for previous models. While it will no doubt take quite some time for the BYOD trend to fully catch on BlackBerry, more than any of its rivals, certainly has its work cut out. Its main focus will be to ensure its brand remains the number one choice for business users, in the hope that once again they will help make the firm as successful as it once was.

Sarah Hazelwood works for mobile phone retailer, Phones4u (opens in new tab). Read more about Phones4U deals and news here (opens in new tab).