RIM Launches Security Features for iPhone and Android Phones

By SiliconIndia   |   Wednesday, 30 November 2011, 08:07 Hrs
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Bangalore: Blackberry was the most preferred device for businesses and corporates. But now as the corporate companies are switching to other smartphones which have higher security features with superior looks, Blackberry maker, Research in Motion (RIM), has took a move to incorporate competitor’s product.

RIM has announced a launch of “Mobile Device Management Software Application Tool” in the Q1 next year, and has called it a ‘Blackberry Mobile Fusion’, which will allow corporate customers to link with their employees’ personal iPhones, Apple’s iPad and smartphones using Google’s Android operating system, to the Blackberry network without negotiating the security. This application is currently under beta test. Through this application, a company can remotely lock or wipe a lost or stolen device, which is a key selling point for security-conscious corporations, who may have been cautious of shifting away from Blackberry.  “It’s not an admission of guilt – it’s a necessary evil,” Suquehanna analyst Jeff Fidacaro said.

RIM’s VP of enterprise product management and marketing, Alan Panezic, calls ‘Fusion’ an “end-to-end enterprise solution, from a trusted vendor with a proven track record.” It lets the IT departments oversee the both company-owned and employee-owned mobile devices within their organizations. They can also set and monitor rules, apps and softwares. The tool is based on technology from ‘Ubitexx’, a German Mobile Device Management. “What our enterprise customers are looking for, and the opportunity for us, is to become the de facto platform,” says Panezic. This software will manage RIM’s Play-Book Independently from a Blackberry after the tablet – which has yet to gain traction with either business or consumer clients – receives a long-awaiting software upgrade. Mobile Fusion will sit next to existing BlackBerry Enterprise Servers behind corporate firewalls. Panezic declined to give the pricing details for this service but said it would be competitive with rivals.

Before taking this tentative step, the company could develop a fresh source of revenue to offset a shrinking market share in handsets. Indeed, success with this approach could encourage RIM to focus more and more on services rather than devices.

RIM’s often impulsive stock closed 5.4 per cent higher at $17.37 on Nasdaq and up 5.5 percent at C$17.95 in Toronto. It still down more than 70 percent this year following a string of delayed or botched product launches, and disappointing quarterly results. RIM's slice of the lucrative U.S. smartphone market fell to 9 percent in the third quarter, down from 24 percent a year earlier, according to research firm Canalys. Globally, the report placed RIM in fifth place, with 10 percent market share, compared with 15 percent a year earlier.  

"While a positive step, the larger challenges remain RIM's need to narrow competitive gaps in its handsets," RBC Capital Markets analyst Mike Abramsky wrote in a note to clients. He pointed to RIM's software deficiencies and limited content and applications available on its devices.” “We will take full advantage of whatever security capabilities are provided by the core operating system. We’re not going to hold that back in any way, shape or form,” Panezic said. Mobile Fusion will include and extend existing Blackberry Enterprise Servers, or BES, behind corporate firewalls. "It will help stem the tide of those companies that may have considered eliminating their BES but it won't help sell more phones," said Gartner analyst Phillip Redman. "That's what they really need to do."

RIM has recently launched touchscreen devices using its bequest BlackBerry operating system as it works to put the QNX software powering the PlayBook on to a new generation of phones from early next year.

As some smaller companies such as Good Technology, Mobile Iron and Box Tone already offer device management as companies bother about leakage of confidential information via their workers’ personal, non-Blackberry devices, this Mobile Fusion may perplex them. "This will definitely rattle some cages" among firms that filled a niche by securing and managing iPhones and other non-BlackBerry devices for corporations, Forrester analyst Christian Kane said. Panezic said customers had requested a solution to handle Apple and Android devices, but RIM would consider adding support for other systems, such as Microsoft's Windows Phone, if it saw enough demand.



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