Could BYOD Backlash Help BlackBerry?

Carl Weinschenk
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The bloom has been off the rose for bring your own device (BYOD) for a while. One story this week reported that this is giving hope to struggling BlackBerry. The problems with BYOD, including clumsy and energy-hungry mobile device management (MDM) software and employee privacy concerns have people asking for BlackBerry to jump back in.

But that wasn’t the only tech news this week. Here are some highlights from this and other interesting stories:

Battle of the Blogs

Carol Wilson at LightReading details a battle of the blogs between Level 3 and Verizon over which company is slowing down delivery of Netflix. Verizon’s post was written by David Young, the company’s vice president of Federal Regulatory Affairs.

A graphic in his post claims to show that Netflix didn’t have sufficient capacity to deliver content to Verizon’s network. Level 3 Vice President of Content and Media, Mark Taylor, responded that the graphic shows that simply adding ports at the interconnection point would have solved the problem.

Wilson’s take seems to make sense:

What the dueling blogs actually show, at least to me, is that these two sides agree on the congestion problem -- the interconnection point between the Netflix transit networks and Verizon's access networks -- but disagree on the solution.

Missing BlackBerry

For the past few years, what passed for good headlines for BlackBerry was news that things weren’t going downhill quite as quickly as before. In short, the news has consistently been awful for the company.

Finally, a piece of actual good news. Tom Kaneshige at CIO reports that an investment firm in New York City is experiencing a revolt against BYOD, and that many employees are asking for their BlackBerrys back. Three issues are driving the dissatisfaction with BYOD: The mobile device management (MDM) platforms necessary to support the approach are prone to inefficiencies, inadequacies and small and annoying problems; the MDM platforms drain batteries quickly; and employees are not comfortable with an arrangement in which their privacy is compromised.

The story doesn’t say if the desire to move back to BlackBerry is a trend or if the experience of the unnamed firm is an outlier.

Facebook’s Mobile Success

One of the many dramas surrounding Facebook during the past few years has been whether it can be as successful in a mobile world as it was when a higher percentage of users were tethered to desktop PCs. That equation actually has a couple of variables: the number of people using Facebook as they are out and about and the ability of the company to monetize this population of mobile users.

One side of the equation certainly has worked itself out. The Next Web shows consistent growth in the number of users who have logged on using only mobile devices during the past five quarters: 219 million (second quarter, 2013); 254 million (third quarter, 2013); 296 million (fourth quarter, 2013); 341 million (first quarter, 2014) and 399 million (second quarter, 2014). More than 1 billion people sign on monthly from mobile devices, but these are not all mobile-only users.

The Value of FTTH

GigaOm reports on a survey from the FTTH Council that says that a home with fiber all the way is worth $5,000 more than one where it stops short. The survey also offers some context to how the platform is progressing. Writer Stacey Higginbotham notes that the results are not too impressive:

The survey also notes that there are 58 fiber-to-the-home providers in the U.S. offering gigabit speeds and that the total number of fiber-to-the-home connections is at 10.4 million. I’m actually pretty disappointed in the overall growth of FTTH connections, which grew only by about 700,000 homes or 7 percent from a year ago.

The Robotic Threat

And, finally, comes a story about our scary future. ExtremeTech reports on plans by Japan to revitalize its tech sector by making robots “one of the country’s most important economic pillars” and stage a “Robot Olympics” in 2020.

What is even more compelling is the discussion of the fear that an explosion of robotics could mean an implosion of jobs for humans. Writer Graham Templeton suggests that there is no support for the idea that the displacement of humans in existing sectors will catalyze the emergence of new fields:

Today, that view is falling back before the simple reality that robots and software solutions threaten all sorts of professions — from truckers to telemarketers to warehouse labourers — and that there is simply no reason to think that these innovations will stimulate any large new job market.

It has been proven over and over that the march of technology cannot be stopped. Robots are coming and they will be better at many jobs than humans. We should begin thinking through the ramifications.

Carl Weinschenk covers telecom for IT Business Edge. He writes about wireless technology, disaster recovery/business continuity, cellular services, the Intenet of Things, machine-to-machine communications and other emerging technologies and platforms. He also covers net neutrality and related regulatory issues. Weinschenk has written about the phone companies, cable operators and related companies for decades and is senior editor of Broadband Technology Report. He can be reached at and via twitter at @DailyMusicBrk.

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