Research In Motion Ltd. is launching software that will allow IT departments to manage the security of not only BlackBerrys but also iPhones and Android devices, a signal that the smartphone company is determined to maintain dominance in the enterprise market.
Last week, as RIM reported dismal fourth-quarter results that included the first quarterly loss since 2005, its new chief executive office, Thorsten Heins, pledged to refocus the company on its core strengths, which he said include enterprise services and security.
Tuesday's launch of BlackBerry Mobile Fusion is a key component of a strategy that has taken on a new sense of urgency in the fast-changing smartphone sector, which has seen the BlackBerry maker turn from being a leader to a laggard.
"One could perhaps … believe that we lost a little bit of our focus on the enterprise in years gone by, even though it's been such a core strength for RIM over the years," said Peter Devenyi, the company's senior vice-president for enterprise software.
"There's a tremendous focus within RIM with BlackBerry Mobile Fusion to bring that very much to the forefront again."
The new service signals RIM's acknowledgment that for many companies, BlackBerrys are no longer the smartphone of choice. It is also an attempt to prolong RIM's dominance in management of mobile devices, and their security, which has become increasingly competitive as workers use personal phones in the workplace. Meanwhile, upstarts such as Fixmo Inc. are clamouring to get in on the mobile-management sector.
RIM's new service "allows end users the freedom to choose their device and IT managers to sleep at night, knowing they can securely manage mobile devices from multiple platforms on their network," the company said in a statement.
It is being launched as Waterloo, Ont.-based RIM continues to lose market share in developed economies to rival smartphone powerhouses Apple Inc. and Google Inc.
A report by research firm ComScore released Tuesday showed RIM held 13.4 per cent of the U.S. smartphone market for the three-month period ending in February, down 3.2 per cent from the three previous months. Apple drew 30.2 per cent of U.S. smartphone users for the same period, while Google's Android now runs on 50.1 per cent of U.S. smartphones.
It is unclear whether RIM's new Mobile Fusion service will re-energize its enterprise sector. National Bank Financial analyst Kris Thompson called the new service an "act of desperation" and "another late solution that won't help to stem enterprise churn."
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