Can RIM close the BYOD gap with Mobile Fusion?

Can RIM close the BYOD gap with Mobile Fusion?

Summary: The beleaguered smartphone maker has a lot riding on Mobile Fusion, which is RIM's entry to the bring your own device movement.


Research in Motion rolled out its mobile device management software---BlackBerry Mobile Fusion---in a bid to manage Apple iOS and Android devices in the enterprise. What's unclear is whether Mobile Fusion can get RIM into the bring your own device wave via the back door.

The beleaguered smartphone maker has a lot riding on Mobile Fusion, which is mobile device management (MDM) software that aims to manage and secure multiple devices ranging from the BlackBerry to Android to iOS. The promise is a single pane to manage all of those devices consumers are bringing to work.

CNET: RIM launches BlackBerry Mobile Fusion for iOS, Android devicesRIMageddon: Heins’ turnaround playbook, doubles down on enterprise

RIM's effort is designed to capitalize on the company's strength---security and enterprise management. If workers aren't going to tote BlackBerry devices to work at least RIM can capitalize on the back end.

CEO Thorsten Heins said last week on a rocky earnings report from RIM:

We plan to refocus on the enterprise business and capitalize on our leading position in this segment. RIM was late for the bring your own device movement, and we saw significant slowing down in our enterprise subscriber growth rate as a result. I am committed, with my team, to reclaiming lost market share in this space. The enterprise business is already aggressively moving to upgrade our enterprise space to newer BlackBerry 7 devices and to drive the adoption of BlackBerry Mobile Fusion.

The problem is that the MDM market is crowded. Meanwhile, it's fuzzy whether CIOs want to stay on RIM's enterprise servers. Mobile Fusion includes the security architecture of BlackBerry Enterprise Server, state-of-the-art encryption and policy management. Those features will matter to some verticals, but not all.

Heins said that the Fusion effort is focused on "corporate liable devices where we have a core strength." Mobile Fusion is a free download and RIM will have client access licenses starting at $99 per user or $4 per user a month. The application is priced based on the number of devices being managed.

However, Heins also noted that there are challenges with RIM's services effort. He said:

We have to realize that some of BlackBerry's traditional strengths in security, efficiency, and push are not as highly valued by some of our customers. We are working to identify new services to continue to provide value to our customers and to maintain a healthy service business line.

Topics: Mobile OS, Mobility, BlackBerry, Security

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  • Too Little, Too Late?

    My 100K-employee employer has declared BES and BB phones "dead" for future mobility devices in a phaseout that is embracing BYOD big time, as long as we bring devices such as iP*'s and recent Androids that can be remotely managed via MS Exchange/Activesync (and/or whatever they are using for similar function with the iOS devices if not that). I do not see our strategy reversing again for this belated offering.
    • EAS is not a MDM

      EAS simply provides access to mobile email and PIM. It supports a handful of management / security policies. The fact is it doesn't even support ANY of the API's Apple has released for iOS support.

      As the adoption of other MDM solutions has rocketed up this year (MobileIron, AirWatch, Good Technology) RIM is now part of that conversation. For shops that already have BES and are looking to add support for iOS / Android Fusion has appeal.

      If your content with the limited options EAS provides - best of luck to you.
      • The problem with RIM is in the hardware

        RIM devices still look like they did in 2002. Nothing has really changed.
  • Finally

    A move in a good direction. BBs are excellent work tools but iOS and Android is everywhere. While I believe it's faster to type on a BB keyboard (I wouldn't know, I don't have a BB but my wife does and is the email master compared to me and my iPhone), a lot of people love their non-BB phones for business.
  • Too little on the handset side...

    But on the MDM side, the market is pretty young and likely will go through some cannibalization where only a handful of key players will remain beyond standalone ActiveSync. Right now you have BES still having some dominance in the Blackberry world, a host of ActiveSync "wrapper" type MDMs (Mobile Iron, Maas360, etc.) and Good for Enterprise for those who want more security/segregation of the personal side of the phone vs. the corporate. You also have most of the security/antivirus companies making a play here, as it fits in nicely with their core competencies.

    They all can't survive, just too many players right now where it's still a wide open market. Regardless of the recent BES NOC outage, RIM has a long and strong track record of providing an enterprise MDM, which is allot more than many of the newer recent entrants can boast.

    Factor in that most organizations won't pry Blackberries from the hands of those that still prefer BB (there is still a sizable base), a solution that is truly handset agnostic has some legs, so there's a play here for RIM.

    Now whether they fumble it like they've been consistently doing for the last couple of years is a different story.
    • Exactly

      RIM should focus on being a service side solution. Leave the hardware and ecosystem to others.

      Most of the EAS based solutions are all the same. Limited by API support so your just looking at CAL cost and support when comparing.

      Presently on Good and likely moving to something else next year. The user experience is horrid.
      • Agreed

        GfE has allot of potential, especially if Good Dynamics catches on with 3rd party app developers, and seems to be the most secure and IT Dept friendly of the current crop of MDMs, but it appears they cut allot of corners on the usability side. Nothing earth shattering, but at the same time annoying when you've experienced more robust mail/cal/contact apps.

        Some of my oberservations on GfE shortcomings:

        A. Notification Tone - lack of ability to change alert tone (extremely annoving when sitting in a room full of GfE users)
        B. Calendar - lack of ability to click on an open timeslot and create a meeting/appointment. Have to use the "+" which forces you to manually select a time range.
        C. Calendar - Each calendar field opens to a different screen
        D. Mail - No ability to set message priority/importance
        E. Lack of wav file support within GfE for Android. Have had to poke holes through to allow users to play office vmail messages with apps outside of Good. A pain, given the variations of Android OEMs and carriers, as it's not necessarily a single app we have to create an exception for.
        F. Lack of support for .msg files (e-mails as attachments) in native GfE doc viewer.

        Probably a few others, but these are the ones that come to mind.
  • Too little, too late...

    It might help them get a foothold on the services side. Their one hope is to be able to reinvent themselves as a services company.

    On the handset side, the problem is the platform. Building an OS is an iterative process and RIM isn't about to get BB10 right anytime soon.

    Rest in PEace RIM, once companies adopt android and ios devices, kiss the enterprize market share good bye. RIM will most likely be bought out by Microsoft or some other company.

    Black Berry will just be one of the many other items displayed at obsolite electronics museums.