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BlackBerry 10 looking good, says SAP CIO

The company plans to offer and support BlackBerry 10 devices within the first quarter of 2013

Research In Motion's new BlackBerry 10 operating system looks good and SAP plans to begin supporting RIM handsets for its workforce shortly after the January launch, according to a SAP executive.

BlackBerry, once a darling of the corporate world, has seen usage slip among business users at major companies in the past couple of years as it has struggled to keep up with Apple and Android devices that workers have found more desirable. But the company hopes that will all change on Jan. 30 when it launches the new BlackBerry 10 operating system and an unknown number of handsets.

"I believe there is still a community of BlackBerry users out there," said Oliver Bussmann, chief information officer of SAP, during an interview at CES in Las Vegas. "They love it."

SAP, based in Walldorf, Germany, has around 55,000 employees worldwide and already manages a complex ecosystem of 20,000 Apple iPads, a similar number of iPhones, and 4,000 Samsung Android handsets. Among its user base, it has about 16,000 BlackBerry users, he said. SAP is a beta tester of BlackBerry 10.

"RIM needs to do a good job on execution of the launch, better than the PlayBook," he said, referring to Research In Motion's tablet PC that was introduced in the shadow of the iPad in 2011 but failed to take off. "The first indications are that they are and it's looking good."

"The same is true of Windows Phone 8," he said. SAP is already supporting Microsoft's new cellphone operating system for its more than 55,000 employees around the world.

Getting new devices supported quickly is critical in today's fast-moving electronics industry, he said. It's much better for a company to embrace BYOD (bring your own device) and let employees use the phones they want.

"As CIO, you can ignore these new devices, but then the chance employees will find a way around [corporate restrictions] is high," he said.

Thus SAP's plans to quickly support and offer the BlackBerry 10 handsets to its users.

Martyn Williams covers mobile telecoms, Silicon Valley and general technology breaking news for The IDG News Service. Follow Martyn on Twitter at @martyn_williams. Martyn's e-mail address is martyn_williams@idg.com

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