Within a year, BlackBerry plans to offer much of its software that runs on its BlackBerry smartphones for use on Android, iOS and Windows smartphones and tablets as it looks to broaden its reach into the enterprise even when companies are using competing devices.
The new project, called the BlackBerry Experience Suite, was unveiled by the company at Mobile World Congress 2015 in Barcelona, Spain, on March 1 as a way for enterprises and small businesses to bring enterprise-class applications to their end users from a trusted partner such as BlackBerry. The BlackBerry Experience Suite is expected to be offered by the end of 2015.
Also announced by BlackBerry at MWC is a new cross-platform Enterprise Mobile Management Cloud for enterprises and small and medium-size businesses, which will help companies better manage their deployments of Android, iOS, Windows Phone and BlackBerry 10 smartphones and tablets.
The BlackBerry Experience Suite
The BlackBerry Experience Suite is composed of three components that users can buy together or separately, including modules for productivity applications, security, and communications and collaboration, according to BlackBerry. The productivity tools are aimed at helping users manage work and personal messages, edit documents and more across myriad devices, while the collaboration tools are built to help users share and collaborate securely in real time with colleagues through instant meetings, WiFi voice calls, video chat and an integrated calendar view. The security module is aimed at helping users and their companies protect personal and work information from malware and data theft with BlackBerry's secure encryption and privacy controls across any mobile computing environment.
In a press briefing with journalists before MWC opened, John Chen, CEO and executive chairman of BlackBerry, said the idea for the new suite came to him as he thought about all of the patents, software and smart thinking that have been built into his company's applications such as its latest BES12 and BlackBerry Messaging (BBM) offerings.
"I figured there was really a hidden gem and that we could build a good book of business," Chen said. "People are still very much in love with our software capabilities and our robustness and our privacy and security" strengths, he said. "It all validated my idea that we should make our know-how there into a business."
To do that, BlackBerry has been working hard on BES12 and other BlackBerry applications to adapt them to run on other manufacturers' devices, he said.
"We have checked with the market," said Chen. "Carriers think it makes perfect sense."
While the new BlackBerry Experience Suite will be an important part of the company's future, he said it absolutely does not mean that the company is looking away from its established hardware business or from the still-developing Internet of things market possibilities.
Essentially, the new suite will allow business users to operate whatever mobile devices they are using while getting services from BlackBerry. Over time, BlackBerry will look to market the new products to OEMs to encourage them to install the applications on their devices when they are being built, said Chen.
"What's new is we're going to build a business on putting it on other people's devices, on Android, iOS, iPad and Windows Phone," said Chen. "Everything is about [being] cross-platform."
The idea is to try to do the same things the company has done with BES 12 by adapting it to run other devices, said Chen.
BlackBerry BES12 Cross-Platform EMM Cloud
Also unveiled at MWC was BlackBerry's new BES12 Cloud offering, a cloud-based enterprise mobility management application that helps companies better manage their iOS, Android, Windows Phone and BlackBerry 10 smartphones and tablets. BES12 Cloud supports a broad range of device mobility policies and is managed through a browser interface, without requiring installation on any servers, according to BlackBerry.