BlackBerry Opens BB10 Support to SAP, AirWatch, Citrix, IBM

BlackBerry, in support of users and its handset division, has decided to allow rival EMM companies to support BlackBerry 10-running smartphones.

BlackBerry offers an enterprise mobility management (EMM) solution that enables customers to manage BlackBerry smartphones alongside iOS and Android-running devices (and with the launch of BES12 later this year, also Windows Phone devices). On May 13, BlackBerry became still more accommodating of the reality of EMM today, announcing that it will also enable its competitors—AirWatch, Citrix, IBM and SAP, initially—to also support BlackBerry 10-running devices as part of their mixed-platform environments.

Many BlackBerry customers, and even those in once BlackBerry footholds such as government and other highly regulated and intensely security-focused industries, have moved away from pure BlackBerry deployments and now support a variety of platforms. Under the leadership of CEO John Chen, BlackBerry is doing all it can to make it simple, pleasant and cost-effective for BlackBerry users to remain BlackBerry users.

While growth is ideal—and is being addressed—stabilizing BlackBerry means keeping its base in place.

"When we began the transformation of BlackBerry, we divided the company into four divisions [EMM, handsets, cross-platform messaging and embedded systems] and we stressed how those divisions would work together to deliver the gold standard from a security and productivity perspective," John Sims, president of Global Enterprise Services at BlackBerry, told eWEEK.

"We also said that each of the divisions needed to be successful as businesses in their own right. And in the enterprise business we've talked much more strongly recently about what we do to support platforms beyond the BlackBerry platform, from a device perspective," Sims continued. "Today's announcement is really about the device business pursuing its success and opening the device platform to be able to be managed by the other MDM [mobile device management] players."

As for a time frame when the four companies will begin supporting BB10 devices, Sims said BlackBerry is "working actively" to enable them to implement the support for the APIs that are being opened to them.

BlackBerry last week promoted a study it commissioned from Strategy Analytics, which compared the EMM solutions of BlackBerry, Citrix, AirWatch, Fiberlink, MobileIron and Good and found BlackBerry's to offer the lowest total cost of ownership for commercial EMM deployments, as well as in high-security, regulated environments; the highest level of security; and the greatest scope of EMM capabilities.

Is today's announcement not an endorsement of rivals, so much as a support of BlackBerry handsets?

"If we're endorsing something, we're endorsing our customers. We're saying people who are BlackBerry customers, whether they're BlackBerry enterprise server customers or BlackBerry device customers, we want to give them the flexibility and the choices they need in order to run their business," said Sims.

"Typically, these other MDM players have come at the market more from a BYOD [bring-your-own-device] perspective. And typically they have customers we don't, and we have customers they don't," he continued. "So, what we're trying to do is enlarge the market, and the support for BlackBerry devices, across the largest footprint possible. That's what this is about."

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