While the 800,000 new BES10 clients licenses since March 31 may sound impressive, analysts noted that the licenses have cost customers nothing or very little. Of course, free client licenses don't cover the substantial cost of BES10 servers needed in each enterprise and related costs. Other EMM providers are also offering customers free client licensing, according to analysts. Microsoft Exchange Activesync is free to any Exchange customer.
"I don't think whether BES10 is cost effective or not is the issue for most of our enterprise clients," said Ken Dulaney, an analyst at Gartner. "Many customers have been offered BES10 for free. Instead, customers are all about managing the risk issues."
Last year, Dulaney advised Gartner clients to consider finding alternatives to BlackBerry because of concerns about its products, such as poor sales of the Z10 and Q10 smartphones, and its shaky corporate and financial future. On Thursday, Dulaney said, "we are OK with staying with BlackBerry as long as the enterprise knows how to manage the risk factors. So it's not about Gartner telling them to get off BlackBerry; it's really about managing risk and their tolerance for risk."
Dulaney also praised BlackBerry CEO John Chen, who was hired last November after a failed bid to take the company private led to the departure of previous CEO Thorsten Heins and other executives.
"Chen has been given a supreme challenge at BlackBerry and he is an effective manager," Dulaney said. "If anyone can fix BlackBerry, he can. But the challenges are large."
Other analysts were less charitable.
BlackBerry's increased focus on enterprise customers is welcome, "but is something they should have done years ago," said Patrick Moorhead, an analyst at Moor Insights & Strategy. "They continue to lose customers, just at a slower rate. To survive, they need to quickly establish themselves as the preferred cross-platform mobile device management solution."
Jack Gold, an analyst at J. Gold Associates, said future versions of BES with added capabilities stand to keep customers interested in migrating to BlackBerry or staying put, although it isn't clear whether BES would be a company's exclusive choice or just one of several EMM software products they use.