BlackBerry regrets belated cross-platform support

BlackBerry wishes it realised sooner that competitor operating systems such as Google's Android and Apple's iOS presented opportunities, not threats, according to global CEO Thorsten Heins.

BlackBerry probably has a fair few regrets, but turning back the clock to offer support for competitor devices through its enterprise mobile device management (MDM) platform would be at the top of its list, according to the company's global CEO Thorsten Heins.

The mobile vendor's BlackBerry Enterprise Server has ensconced itself in the back end of many organisations, offering IT administrators a secure and easy way to manage fleets of corporate BlackBerry devices. It wasn't until 2011 that the company decided to support non-BlackBerry devices through the Enterprise Server.

"I think what we would have done differently is probably engage earlier with the enterprise on cross platform — build a mobile device management solution that would actually intercept what is out there today," Heins said at the Australian BlackBerry 10 launch in Sydney yesterday. "It took us a bit of time to really understand that it's not a threat, but an opportunity."

He lamented the company's delayed action in supporting cross-platform devices, as that would have allowed BlackBerry to get in early for the bring-your-own-device (BYOD) party.

But the vendor has been trying to make up for lost time.

BlackBerry announced Secure Work Space for iOS and Android last week, giving devices running on those two non-BlackBerry OSes the ability to create a separate space on their personal mobile devices for work purposes only. This worked in a similar fashion to BlackBerry Balance on the new BlackBerry 10 operating system.

The Secure Workspace is provisioned through the BlackBerry Enterprise Service 10 (BES 10) MDM offering.

Considering BlackBerry prides itself on offering the most secure devices for enterprise users, it would seem that the vendor shot itself in the foot by increasing the level of security for competitor products. But Heins claimed that his company's handsets will still be the kings of enterprise security, and BES 10 just makes it easier for companies to manage a broad ecosystem of devices.

"I don't think [our competitors] will ever have security as good as BlackBerry, because ours sit in the OS," he said. "Don't take this as arrogance, but [our security] sits in the architecture of the device — that's why we did it."

By becoming a leader in mobile device security and offering up a cost-efficient and user-friendly MDM offering in the form of BES 10, BlackBerry will be able to outdo its competitors, according to Heins.

While there is still doubt in the industry about BlackBerry's future, Heins is happy with the response to BlackBerry 10 since its global launch in January.

"We have strong carrier partners out there, because guess what? They don't want a duopoly [with iOS and Android]," he said. "That is what they currently see. They are begging for choice, and here we are."

The company's first device running on BlackBerry 10 is the Z10, and it will be available through Optus from March 25. Telstra will be stocking the Z10 from March 26. The device is also available through major retailers, including JB Hi Fi and Harvey Norman.