The advent of BlackBerry Mobile Fusion could be the online service that enables Research in Motion to bring in an entire new population of customers while retaining the loyalty of its current users. If it proves highly successful, Mobile Fusion could enable RIM to reverse its plummeting revenue and profit.
BlackBerry Mobile Fusion is a mobile device manager thats intended to give iPhone, iPad, Android and BlackBerry devices a common, secure, management platform, while also providing secure delivery of email and personal information manager (PIM) data.
Mobile Fusion uses what the company is calling the next version of BlackBerry Enterprise Server (BES), working with Microsoft ActiveSync protocols to deliver management to devices including the BlackBerry PlayBook, iPads, iPhones and Android devices.
This means that non-BlackBerry devices will be able to make use of the secure BES environment, including delivery of email and other information over a secure connection with 256-bit Advanced Encryption Standard (AES) encryption. This will also allow users to connect securely to popular email services including Gmail and Windows Live. Existing BES users will be able to manage everything from a single console by using BlackBerry Studio to integrate the two systems.
We are not just a device company, said Pete Devenyi, RIM vice president of enterprise software. We are also a mobile device management [MDM] company. Ninety percent of the Fortune 500 are relying on BES every day. With the rapid expansion of the bring-your-own-device trend in the corporate marketplace, it was time to be realistic about how RIM supported its customers.
For over a decade now, RIM has established itself as being the best [in] mobile device management with the BES, Devenyi said. It remains critical for us to remain firmly entrenched as the leading MDM [provider] in this space; we are committed to driving that business forward. Devenyi said that the need for a product like Mobile Fusion is tremendous.
Whats very important to recognize is that we are the de facto standard in mobile device management. Weve only done it for BlackBerry devices in the past. Mobile fusion expands a great number of the benefits of BES across devices.
Devenyi said that Mobile Fusion is intended specifically to support a market where there are both corporate owned devices and BYOD devices. He said that the new MDM will work with BlackBerry Balance, a technology that allows BlackBerry devices to have two partitions within the device, one containing personal data and apps, and the other for corporate data and apps. He said that BlackBerry Fusion will allow corporate management of the appropriate part of the device, and leave the personal information alone.
BlackBerry Mobile Fusion Lets RIM Address BYOD Trend
Devenyi said that the only restriction regarding the use of Mobile Fusion with BES is that it has to be version 5.0.3, which is the latest version of BlackBerry Enterprise Server. He said that it can be used in organizations of any size, and in conjunction with BES Express, which is intended for smaller enterprises. He also said that in addition to working with BlackBerry and PlayBook devices, it will work with BlackBerry 10 when that ships later in 2012.
A primary feature of BlackBerry Mobile Fusion is security. BlackBerry Mobile Fusion leverages Microsoft ActiveSync protocols for email and other data, and when strong security isnt needed, it will let email services run in an HTTPS environment. However, BlackBerry Mobile Fusion is designed primarily to maintain a BlackBerry Secure Connection from the business network to the device using end-to-end encryption. The apps necessary for this to work on iOS and Android devices are available in the respective app stores for each device.
RIM is also making BlackBerry Mobile Fusion available free on a 60-day trial so that companies can try it out before committing to a subscription. In addition to supporting iOS, Android and BlackBerry devices, including phones and tablets, Mobile Fusion is designed to set security and use policies, it supports multiple devices per user, and it performs asset control and configuration management.
Recognizing a growing trend in the mobile market, Mobile Fusion supports multiple devices per person, meaning you can manage someones BlackBerry smartphone and their iPad tablet at the same time.
BlackBerry Mobile Fusion is a significant step for RIM. While the company is struggling with device sales, it still has more than 77 million users globally. Many of those users are working in situations where data security and the related management tools are critical. While there are other MDM packages out there, BlackBerry has long been considered the gold standard by IT managers, which explains the persistence of BlackBerry devices in corporations, even if users dont always consider them cool.
By embracing the exploding BYOD trend, RIM is making a move that effectively outflanks its competition. While both Apple and Google allow management using ActiveSync, the implementation has varied and security wasnt always a given.
With BES, and now with Mobile Fusion, companies can basically get the benefits theyve demanded from BlackBerry devices without actually having to buy BlackBerry devices. This allows organizations significant flexibility to use the device that best fits their needs, while maintaining security and manageability. The real benefit is that it simplifies mobile device management across all of these platforms, Devenyi said.