BlackBerry Beefs Up Enterprise Focus With BES 12, Myriad Other Wares

The new BES 12 platform includes broader Enterprise Mobile Management features, while a partnership with Samsung brings deeper Android security capabilities. Also unveiled is a new mobile Meetings app.


BlackBerry is expanding and enriching its enterprise mobile offerings with a wide swath of new products, ranging from the latest BES 12 Enterprise Mobile Management (EMM) platform to an Android security partnership with Samsung and new identity management systems that can help enterprises better protect their cloud users.

These moves, and about seven other new product and partnership announcements, are all part of the Canada-based company's efforts to reverse its declining fortunes of the last seven years and begin again growing its business, revenue and customer base. The announcements were unveiled Nov. 13 in a live BlackBerry Enterprise Portfolio Launch event in San Francisco that was also Webcast live.

The expanded and improved new BES 12 platform will have a lot to do with that expected future growth, John Chen, the company's CEO, said during the Webcast. After several years of business declines, Chen said he expects that BES 12 will help the company double its 2014 take of $250 million in software revenue to at least $500 million in 2015.

And if that doesn't happen, said Chen with a smile, members of the company's sales team will have to pay the consequences and be replaced. "But I'll still be here," he joked.

BlackBerry's fall from dominating the enterprise smartphone market has been swift and stunning. BlackBerry spent much of 2012 and 2013 trying to shake off the image that it was finished, especially compared with its presence five years earlier when its devices were the "enterprise gold standard" for mobile business communications, according to earlier eWEEK reports. In early 2006, half of all smartphones sold were BlackBerry models. By 2009, though, its share of the global smartphone market was down to 20 percent.

The turnaround is happening, said Chen, and will continue to be fueled by the new innovations being generated by the company throughout 2015. "We will get it done, as we promised," he said. Next year the company will be focused on growth, thanks to the new products it unveiled, as well as due to promising developments with recent smartphone unveilings aimed at enterprise users, he said.

"Everything is on schedule, or ahead of schedule," he said. "Despite all the changes and cutbacks that we had to endure last year, unfortunately, I would like to focus on what the team has accomplished," including the recently unveiled Passport smartphone that quickly sold out its first 200,000 units in September.

"Yes, we didn't build too many of them, and yes, it ran out of stock around the world in a very short time," said Chen. "A good problem to have."

BES 12 Is BlackBerry's Big Bet

Highlighting the event was the announcement of the latest BES 12 EMM platform, which allows enterprises to control access, data and applications across BlackBerry devices and systems, as well as for Android, iOS and Windows Phone platforms.