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RIM: BlackBerry's future lies in social networking

Research In Motion Co-chief executive Jim Balsillie says an enterprise social-networking revolution is on the way.

BARCELONA, Spain--The secret of the BlackBerry's success is security, according to Research In Motion's co-chief executive, Jim Balsillie, but social networking is its future.

Speaking during a session on mobile services here at the GSMA Mobile World Congress, Balsillie said having security validations worldwide, and features such as built-in firewalls and the ability to remotely lock and wipe devices, are key.

"If you don't address this, you don't get to be accepted by the organization," Balsillie warned.

Echoing Vodafone Group chief executive Arun Sarin's words from an earlier keynote, Balsillie said carriers have come to a fork in the road that will see them either become pipes or platforms. They must therefore provide a managed service to users, seamlessly integrating Web services and desktop applications onto handsets. "This is not a concept. This is a reality," he said.

And change is afoot elsewhere too, according to Balsillie, who said a business-to-business social-networking revolution is coming that will bring networking benefits to the enterprise and also help drive data usage. "Once social networking becomes a B2B phenomenon--not unlike IM and texting--I believe every single social-networking user will want a data plan," he told the GSMA audience.

Balsillie added that some of the largest companies in the world are considering giving all their employees BlackBerry devices. "Just ask a CIO," he said. "They want everyone to be a mobile worker."

Natasha Lomas of Silicon.com reported from London.