Alright folks! Let's think outside the box for a minute!
We love our BlackBerry phones and our PlayBooks. And in a family setting, they are great. We can all keep connected with BBM, we can find our phones when little Jennifer has hidden one in a toybox with BlackBerry Protect, and we can all find out where we are with our BBM shared calendar.
But I think that Research In Motion is missing a killer feature that would massively differentiate BlackBerry from the competition and make BlackBerry a phone of choice for mums and dads.
What I hate, as a parent who worries about his children, is allowing them to have access to a phone unsupervised. Unfortunately in this crazy socially-connected world teenage kids have their own smartphones, Facebook and Twitter accounts and almost anything else.
And this bothers me a lot. It wasn't like this in my day
. I personally believe that there is a lot of pressure put on our kids due to this constant connected state that they live in and I want to be sure that they are safe, and acting responsibly.
Giving a teenager a smartphone really does fly in the face of this - as we have to give them a lot of trust. This is just too much responsibility for children or young adults, and they are bound to make mistakes. I want to be able to monitor their handset and make sure that it is not only safe for them to use - but that they are using it in a sensible and wholesome way.
Introducing the BlackBerry Home Manager!
RIM already has the solution. It's called BlackBerry Enterprise Server. It does everything that I need to do as the patriarch to ensure that I can keep my family safe:
- Monitors communications
- Deploys apps
- Removes unwanted apps
- Remotely enable / disable features (such as being able to use the camera)
So, why not turn this Enterprise service into a scaled-down hosted version a la BlackBerry Protect? Families could connect their phones and tablets to the account to the new service and should you need to manage or access a device, then you can log in and see what's going on!
Worried that your kid is sending rude messages? Just check their messages logged on the service.
Want to make sure that the nasty social-network program doesn't get installed? Easy. Just add it to a block list!
Want to make sure that the phone apps are up to date? Just connect your BlackBerry IDs to the account and pull them in from AppWorld!
Too much surfing the web, and don't know what they are looking at? Just set a list of 'allowed' websites for their phone.
It's nice having parental controls on phones, and I think that's a good start. But the current controls on the BlackBerry handsets fall way short of what I would like to see.
IT administrators can do these things with people they barely know, so why can't we do this for our families?
There it is. The BlackBerry Home Manager. Make it happen, RIM!