RIM's upcoming BlackBerry Mobile Fusion management platform supports not only BlackBerry but also Apple's iPhone and Google Android.
Research In Motion has long touted enterprise-level security
and management as a selling point of its BlackBerry devices, a key
differentiator from the Apple iPhones and Google Android smartphones flooding
both the business and consumer market.
Now, it seems, RIM has decided to extend its branded management
capabilities to platforms beyond BlackBerry, in what could represent a
significant strategy change for the company.
RIM's upcoming BlackBerry Mobile Fusion is designed, in the
words of the company's Nov. 29 press release, to "simplify the management of
smartphones and tablets running BlackBerry, Google Android and Apple iOS
operating systems." In other words, IT administrators and CIOs will have the
ability to control all those devices via a Web-based console, from instituting
security policies to managing applications. For those shops continuing to
support BlackBerry devices, RIM will include BlackBerry Enterprise Server
5.0.3, which offers features such as over-the-air app and software
With BlackBerry Mobile Fusion, RIM has acknowledged the
increasingly heterogeneous nature of enterprise mobility, which in turn has
threatened the BlackBerry's longstanding lock on many companies' IT
infrastructure. As the recession slashed corporate budgets for massive
smartphone buys, and as the increased popularity of smartphones put more Google
Android devices and Apple iPhones in executives' hands, both small companies
and large enterprises saw an influx of personal devices retrofitted for
In turn, that helped erode the BlackBerry's corporate market share-but as with many an institution in similar
straits, RIM decided the best strategy was to push back, hard, against its
rivals. Now, it seems, that strategy may have taken something of a turn, with
RIM offering a major product targeted at heterogeneous environments. BlackBerry
Mobile Fusion is currently in early beta testing, with general availability
expected in late March 2012.
Certainly RIM faces challenges from analysts and pundits who
see the company as beleaguered in the face of significant competition from
Apple's iOS and Google Android. "Looking in retrospect, we should have
downgraded in mid-October," read a Nov. 28 research note from Sterne Agee
analyst Shaw Wu, "when the stock was $24 and our supply chain checks indicated
that while its new flagship BlackBerry Bold 9900 was doing decently, the rest
of its product line was lagging."
In a Nov. 17 research note, Canaccord Genuity analyst T.
Michael Walkley suggested that Apple's launch of the iPhone 4S had impacted
sales of BlackBerry devices: "While our September/October checks indicated
solid sales of new BlackBerry OS 7 models, especially the Bold 9000 series as
an upgrade enterprise sale, our recent checks indicate slowing sales trends
post the launch of the iPhone 4S and price reductions of the iPhone 4 and 3GS."
In addition to BlackBerry Mobile Fusion, RIM is also betting
on an upcoming line of "superphones" running its in-development BBX operating
system. An exact launch date for those devices has not been publicly declared.
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