Can RIM close the BYOD gap with Mobile Fusion?

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.

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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.

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