RIM allows rivals onto BlackBerry servers
Troubled mobile firm launches Mobile Fusion software
Research In Motion today launched software that lets enterprise customers manage Apple and other rival devices through the same servers they use for the BlackBerry and Playbook.
The new Mobile Fusion software, first announced in November, lets companies manage and secure rival devices via BlackBerry Enterprise Server as though they were one of RIM's own handsets.
It's a recognition by RIM of a growing preference by many users inside big corporations and government to access professional communications over their personal devices, such as the Apple iPhone or iPad, or devices running Google's Android.
"Organisations face pressure to allow employees to bring their own devices into the workplace, and they are looking to RIM as the global leader in the enterprise mobility space to solve that problem,” said Alan Panezic, vice president of enterprise product management and marketing at RIM.
Businesses and government do not have to move to the lowest common denominator on security for all the devices they need to manage
“BlackBerry Mobile Fusion allows organisations to manage a mixed environment of devices in the most secure, simple, and cost efficient manner possible," he added. "It also means that businesses and government do not have to move to the lowest common denominator on security for all the devices they need to manage.”
The BlackBerry has appealed to big organisations because of the water-tight security afforded by the enterprise network. It enables businesses to control access by setting password rules, blocking or pushing access to certain applications and remotely wiping lost or stolen devices.
RIM, which long dominated the so-called enterprise market, has watched the BlackBerry's market share steadily erode in recent years. Unable to arrest the trend, the company now aims to generate a fresh revenue stream from it.
Mobile Fusion will cost $99 per user to license and $4 per user a month, with discounts available for bulk orders.
In a second announcement that highlights RIM's eroding market position, it said its PlayBook tablet now boasts 15,000 applications - a tiny fraction of the number available on the iPad. One of the biggest complaints about RIM's products is the dearth of content and applications.
A recent survey from Appcelerator and IDC showed fewer than 16% of developers were "very interested" in creating programs for RIM, compared with 90% for Apple and 80% for Android.
The Canadian company has sought to win over developers, and it claimed the figure was evidence of growth. RIM has more than 70,000 apps in its App World store for either BlackBerry phones or the PlayBook tablet, which compares with 200,000 iPad apps, and half a million for the iPhone.