BlackBerry shifting emphasis from smartphones to services

Tue May 21, 2013 12:45pm EDT
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* Aims for leadership role in mobile computing arena

* Launch of BES seen driving enterprise upgrade cycle

* Large banks, law firms, others begin deploying BB10

By Euan Rocha

TORONTO, May 21 (Reuters) - BlackBerry no longer owns the fast-paced, innovative smartphone world but the company, whose email-on-your-hip devices once revolutionized the industry, now aims to run it.

The change in focus was hard to miss at the company's well-attended annual conference in Florida last week, even as news of a new smartphone model and its plans to offer the popular BlackBerry Messaging (BBM) instant message service on other platforms grabbed the headlines.

The company, whose BlackBerry Enterprise Service (BES) offering has long allowed customers to manage BlackBerry devices within corporate or government networks, is now extending that feature to let customers manage non-BlackBerry devices. It is also providing security for data regardless of what devices the customers use.

"The most exciting announcement they made is their strategy to provide secure infrastructure across devices and secure iOS and Android devices in addition to BlackBerry devices," said Yaacov Cohen, who heads, a company that gives users access to corporate collaboration tools such as IBM Connections and Microsoft Office 365 across a range of operating systems.

Although the move has long been anticipated, the official launch of BES 10.1 paves the way for enterprise customers to begin upgrades in the latter half of the year, a development that might also boost sales for the company's new line of Blackberry 10 smartphones.   Continued...