BlackBerry smartphones and enterprise users were for some time an undisputed duo. But just as Research In Motion has gradually made inroads into the consumer market, popular consumer devices such as the Apple iPhone and Google Android -running smartphones have even more swiftly encroached on RIM’s bread-and-butter market. RIM, however, has a new offering planned that officials believe will help them to better hold onto their corporate clientele.
In two months’ time, RIM plans to introduce a software called BlackBerry Balance that will enable IT departments to securely separate a user’s business-related e-mail, sent through the BlackBerry Enterprise Server (BES), from the user’s personal social networking information and photographs, Reuters reported Jan. 23.
Jeff McDowell, RIM’s senior vice president for business and platform marketing, described smartphones as being in the position of hosting conflicting “use cases”: the user’s personal life and work life. “We just wanted to create an innovative solution that allows enterprises to manage the corporate data side while at the same time give their employees the freedom to use Facebook and browse the Web and get their Internet email at the same time,” McDowell said in a Jan. 21 interview, according to Reuters.McDowell added that the Balance software is currently being tested by carriers, and that it will also be available for the PlayBook – RIM’s upcoming enterprise-geared iPad competitor, which in the future will host BES functionality. As with 3G connectivity, which the PlayBook will feature in cooperation with a BlackBerry handset, a user will “need to bridge the PlayBook to an existing BlackBerry to access corporate email, address book and calendar functions,” Reuters reported.In 2008, Nokia had something similar in mind with the launch of its slim, enterprise-geared E71 smartphone, which includes a button for switching between a user’s personal and business personas, and featured separate everything, from home screens to inboxes.Apple’s iOS 4 also enables IT mangers to separate and business content and applications from their personal counterparts, as does RIM’s BlackBerry OS 6, though with finer controls. With BlackBerry Balance, RIM presumably has something even more fine-tuned in mind.During its most recent earnings call, Apple – once the bane of IT executives, who were forced to do battle with unapproved, employee-owned iPhones that began turning up in offices – underlined quite how much progress it has made into what was once RIM-only territory. “Enterprise CIOs continue to add to add the iPhone to their approved-devices lists,” Apple CFO Peter Oppenheimer said during Apple’s Jan. 18 earnings call, adding that 88 of the Fortune 100 companies are now testing or deploying the iPhone, while 80 percent of the Fortune 100 companies are deploying or piloting the iPad – up 65 percent from just the quarter before. RIM, during its own most recent earnings call, announced record sales of BlackBerry smartphones, despite being engaged in a strenuous battle against Apple and Android.”With strong results and momentum from our recent product introductions, as well as growing excitement from our partners and customers around upcoming smartphone, tablet, software and services offerings,” RIM Co-CEO Jim Balsillie said in a Dec. 16 statement, “we are setting the stage for continuing success.”