I was a BlackBerry Elite- known for my advocacy for the brand in my part of the world. I used to review pre-release devices and write for different newspapers.
My fascination for the device stemmed from their engineering choices of microkernel architecture. BlackBerry utilised QNX, which is a “real-time” OS- as such, it has exceptional distributed efficiency. A QNX variant was being used for Proton Therapy centre in Indiana (and perhaps other centres too) because of its extreme reliability. In contrast, Apple iOS and Android are “monolithic” kernels- bloated, inefficient and pretty useless. BlackBerry mated it to the best antenna technology but fell short of advertising its own strengths. They did manage to mate Android runtime- ability to run Android applications, but it came at the expense of efficiency.
I wouldn’t comment on their further fiascos in consumer technology. BlackBerry pioneered the enterprise mobility management systems- they could create secure vaults with its own browser and contained applications that prevented pilferage of data. They have focused on their strengths and are limited to the enterprise side of the market, but it was their containerisation technology that excited me.
Healthcare data is precious for those who manage to infiltrate the networks. The same can be argued for corporate data as well. As the digital health grows (from equipment to IoT), the attack surface area would grow exponentially. Contrary to popular belief, iOS is riddled with “bugs”, and its secure enclave is a marketing gimmick. Arguably it has been approved for use by the US government, but it is only with the deployment of enterprise mobile management solution.
Samsung copied the idea of kernel monitoring from BlackBerry and there were enough rumours that Knox required “assistance” from BlackBerry to get it right. There were some initial challenges, but Knox has now been approved for use in sensitive installations. Healthcare is one natural extension.
I bought Samsung Galaxy Note 10 as a natural upgrade from my existing One Plus. While the phone serves well, it opens up “backdoors” for all information to China. As such, it is a security nightmare. I usually avoid patient-specific information through mobile phones because it is not a secure medium. While Google isn’t dyed in the wool alternative, I typically limit Google on my devices. The China-based exfiltration of data is built in their code itself. All Chinese phones are a security nightmare.
Samsung is now being manufactured locally with built-in Knox. From a security perspective and being vetted by my Government for internal use, it was a logical decision. The camera is stellar and onboard augmented reality is the icing on the cake. I have been exploring the use of AR in healthcare, and I am sure that the advances will slowly percolate down to other devices. They did introduce their “lite versions”, but it has inefficient chipsets from the previous two years which precluded my decision to go in for the cheaper version.
Samsung with Knox is a reliable alternative to most of the other handsets for healthcare. I still remain opposed to iPhones (poor battery life/poor camera optics, tardy operating system and riddled with bugs and zero-day exploits). Further, despite all the noises it makes for “privacy”, it has extensive data localisation in China where concerns on individual liberties remain. I would continue to be hard-pressed to justify its use. In fact, iOS is a usability disaster because it is impossible to work efficiently on them.
I would have genuinely hoped for BlackBerry to continue; I had access to its genomic browser in BlackBerry Passport, way back in 2013-14 when I first handled the prototypes. It would have been incredibly more comfortable to view the mutated genes and then personalise it for treatment. The genomic browser never matured beyond prototype and Passport remains a distant memory. Samsung Galaxy Note with Knox remains the best alternative to BlackBerry for a secure endpoint in healthcare.