Research In Motion Ltd. is bringing more functionality to the security services it already offers for Apple Inc.’s iOS devices and smartphones running Google Inc.’s Android software as the BlackBerry maker battles to retain its lead in the increasingly competitive mobile device management space.
For years, RIM has provided IT departments with software to manage BlackBerrys securely and has gradually started offering similar secure wireless solutions to more Android devices and iPhones as the rival devices became more popular in the workplace.
On Thursday, the company, which has announced it’s changing its name to BlackBerry, said it is bringing a new feature to managed iOS and Android devices some time in the next few months that functions like the “BlackBerry Balance” feature already available on the company’s new BlackBerry 10 phones.
The new feature, called Secure Work Space, allows users to toggle between a secure corporate side of the phone and a personal side – giving Android- and iPhone-toting employees the ability to use their devices without bosses worrying about compromised corporate data.
“We effectively invented this space with BlackBerry, we know this better than anyone else,” says Peter Devenyi, RIM’s senior vice-president for enterprise software. “With Secure Work Space, we completely separate corporate data and corporate applications from personal data and personal apps.”
RIM, of course, is trying to retain customers on the lucrative service side of its business as many companies swap out BlackBerrys for iPhones and RIM launches its make-or-break BlackBerry 10 platform. RIM’s stock plummeted about 22 per cent in December, when chief executive officer Thorsten Heins suggested the company was going to introduce tiered pricing for its previously highly profitable services side of the business – a move that was perhaps inevitable, given the competitive situation, but it worried analysts who focus on profit margins. RIM’s BlackBerry Enterprise Service, or BES, is a crucial part of that service revenue, allowing IT departments to manage the hundreds or thousands of BlackBerrys floating among its employees.
The mobile device management industry, which flourished as companies looked for ways to allow employees to use non-BlackBerry smartphones securely, has become a hotly competitive sector – with fast-moving third party providers such as AirWatch LLC and Fixmo Inc.
“The next wave of enterprise mobility is about empowering employees with access to the business data they need, on the devices they want, without compromising security, compliance, or the personal experience of the device,” says Tyler Lessard, a former RIM executive who is now Fixmo’s chief marketing officer. “Over the past 12 months, we’ve seen tremendous interest in our own secure workspace solution.”