More could follow Westpac dropping BlackBerry: analyst

Part of broader trend toward third-party mobile device management

Westpac’s move to supporting Android and Windows Phone devices “is another nail in the BlackBerry coffin,” according to independent telecom analyst Chris Coughlan.

“If one of the big four financial institutions is happy with the security provided by MDM with the iOS, Android and Windows then others are likely to follow,” he predicted.

Westpac plans to replace BlackBerry with a hybrid of enterprise-provided devices (Samsung Galaxy Ace 3 and Windows Phone) and choose your own device, according to a report in <I>IT News</I>. The list of approved devices for CYOD reportedly include Apple iPhone, Samsung Galaxy S5 and Galaxy Note.

Westpac also plans to ditch its legacy desktop and notebook computers in favour of Toshiba Ultrabooks with Windows 7, it was reported.

The move is part of a broader trend toward third-party mobile device management (MDM) services, according to Coughlan.

“Mobile devices are very much a personal choice,” he said. “Westpac's move shows this and more. They obviously see broader benefits in going to mobile for primary voice communications and the use of WiFi (ac) for wireless data connections.”

“The use of an MDM platform will make the use of [bring your own device (BYOD)] more secure, and allow better management of the bank's devices.”

Frost & Sullivan analyst Audrey William agreed the move exemplifies BlackBerry's struggles.

"The market is dominated by a handful of players in the Australia market for MDM and whilst BlackBerry has a foothold in the government sector, financial services organisations as well as government departments in Australia are now moving towards other operating systems such as iOS and Android and the uptake for both of these operating systems have been strong in the last 12 months."

BlackBerry itself appeared to acknowledge the trend toward third-party MDM vendors when it last month decided to allow rivals AirWatch, Citrix, SAP and IBM to directly manage its BlackBerry 10 OS smartphones with their software.

Westpac recently renewed a five-year contract with Optus to manage 13,000 mobile devices for the bank.

Adam Bender covers telco and enterprise tech issues for Computerworld and is the author of dystopian sci-fi novels We, The Watched and Divided We Fall. Follow him on Twitter: @WatchAdam

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