BlackBerry in new business solutions push, inks partnerships

Thu Nov 13, 2014 12:14pm EST
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By Euan Rocha

SAN FRANCISCO Nov 13 (Reuters) - BlackBerry Ltd unveiled its new mobile device management platform on Thursday and struck new partnerships aimed at bolstering its device security and management business.

The BlackBerry Enterprise Service, or BES 12, will allow big clients like corporations and government agencies to manage and secure not just BlackBerry devices on their internal networks, but those that run on rival operating systems such as Google's Android and Apple's iOS.

BlackBerry said it would team up with Samsung to provide a "highly secure mobility solution" for Android that couples the Canadian company's device management with Samsung Galaxy phones and tablets embedded with Samsung's KNOX software.

The Waterloo, Ontario-based firm also announced a tie-up with Inc. that will let clients in regulated industries such as healthcare use Salesforce software to securely access data via the BlackBerry platform.

"When we think of mobile devices today, we think of tablets, smartphones and laptops, but very quickly we are going to have sensors, medical devices and a variety of 'connected things', so we're positioning the platform to be able to handle all of those things as well," Chief Operating Officer Marty Beard said in an interview at the BES 12 launch in San Francisco.

"It looks as though BES 12 ticks all the boxes," said John Jackson, a technology analyst at IDC.

"The challenges are it is just a phenomenally competitive environment full of very capable, very well-capitalized big guys like IBM and SAP."

The new products and services, expected to be available in early 2015, are the backbone of Chief Executive John Chen's plan to turn around the smartphone pioneer, whose devices have lost ground to Apple's iPhone, Samsung's Galaxy devices, and a slew of other gadgets powered by Google's Android operating system.

While still a player in the smartphone business, BlackBerry is pivoting to focus on services and the demands of a large base of enterprise clients that are increasingly grappling with data security concerns.

BlackBerry said that its customers have registered for five million BES licenses since a migration push was launched in March, with some 30 percent of these prospective clients moving across from rival mobile device management platforms. (Additional reporting by Alastair Sharp; Editing by Alden Bentley)