Blackberry maker to woo iPhone, Android users by offering security apps

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RIM blackberry mobile fusion
A screen grab of RIM's website announcing the company's latest software. Photo - engadget.com

With sales dwindling and share price down by more than 70 percent this year, Research in Motion (RIM), the makers of the popular Blackberry devices is coming out with a new game plan. The Canadian mobile maker is launching a tool called ‘Mobile Fusion’ that offers some of its important security features for other devices like iPhone and Android devices.

Blackberry’s security model has always been an important factor of its eco-system. It has been the preferred device for businesses and government agencies, who treasure its encrypted data and have distributed the device among millions of their workers needing secure, round-the-clock email access.

The Mobile Fusion device management software, which RIM said it will launch in the first quarter next year will allow corporate IT staff to set and monitor rules for passwords, apps and software on a range of devices, including Apple’s iPad and iPhone, and smartphones using Google’s Android operating system.

The software will allow most of the standard features Blackberry currently offers like remote data wipe, phone locking etc. which has been RIM’s key selling point to corporations concerned with their device security in case device is lost or stolen.

Through Mobile Fusion device management software, RIM is hoping to be the de facto platform for Enterprise product management, and extend the solid security provided by its core operating system and the platform to other non-Blackberry devices.

For RIM, Mobile Fusion represents an acknowledgement that bring-your-own-device programs are becoming a commonplace for many companies, and that employees are, in many cases, opting to purchase devices from rival Apple and Samsung. By allowing other devices onto enterprise networks via BlackBerry architecture, RIM is positioning itself as a mobile device gatekeeper for corporate IT departments and it hopes to solidify the companys standing with its largest enterprise clients.

RIM has been under intense pressure to fend off competition from Google and Apple and is fast losing share in the smartphone market. With workers preferring iPhone and Android devices’ access to corporate emails many questions are being raised about security levels by corporations. RIM is hoping to address this concern with the help of the new software.

STRATEGIC PLACEMENT

Mobile Fusion will sit next to existing BlackBerry Enterprise Servers (BES) behind corporate firewalls. The cost of the software has not been disclosed so far.

However, not everyone believes that this is a real game-changer and experts say RIM need to actually sell more of their phones.

Gartner analyst Phillip Redman said: “It will help stem the tide of those companies that may have considered eliminating their BES but it won’t help sell more phones. That’s what they really need to do.”

The new software release comes months after RIM acquired device management company Ubitexx in May. There are a few other companies with similar solutions such as Good Technology, MobileIron and BoxTone. Companies are also looking into device management solutions as they fret about leakage of sensitive commercial information.

Sources: Reuters, Financial Post, Yahoo News

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