The BlackBerry PlayBook has stumbled since its April 2011 debut, as it--too aggressively for some tastes--worked to address the security needs of its enterprise customers in a form factor as playful as the Apple iPad. Even with email onboard and a variety of updates, though, its success is coming gradually, far from the home run that Research in Motion's earlier executive lineup suggested was imminen, when they rolled out the tablet in more than 20,000 retail outlets.
But now, as RIM trims and tightens itself, working toward new CEO Thorsten Heins' mandate to stay "laser-focused" on what's "core" to the company, an opportunity has presented itself in a key RIM vertical: law enforcement. With government customers said to be slowly leaving RIM, and RIM's newest BlackBerry 10 handsets still months away--giving consumers reason to stray to the iPhone--public service could be a sweet spot, helping to grow RIM's customer base and sell tablets.
RIM got a lucky break in September 2011 when the last Ford Crown Victoria--a popular police cruiser--rolled off an assembly line. With this land yacht retired, police departments can now choose from a handful of American-made options (nevermind that that Ford assembly line was in RIM's home of Ontario), all of them far smaller than the Crown Vic, necessitating a rethink of all that when into the cars.
Police vehicles undergo a crash test at 70 mph, making all the airbags deploy. Any piece of equipment that has a part break off, potentially injuring an officer, doesn t make it into the vehicle, Ken Koke, a constable with Ontario's Chatham-Kent police department, explained during a May 1 session at RIM's BlackBerry World 2012 event.
Koke drives one of the five police cruisers in the world currently equipped with a BlackBerry PlayBook.
"There's only one wireless handheld that s approved for secure government use in Canada," said Koke. "BlackBerry is the only solution that offers two-factor authentication out-of-the-box."
Security is a tremendous concern for police departments; the Internet and secure police databases can t be accessed on the same device. However, the introduction of BlackBerry Balance--technology that creates a virtual wall between security-sensitive data and everything else on a device--addressed this.
"Cops won't say work and play," Koke explained, suggesting the two sides of the wall, "but secure work and work."
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