Research In Motion has entered the multi-platform mobile device management market with BlackBerry Mobile Fusion, a console that lets companies manage their employees' Android and iOS devices as well as their BlackBerry smartphones.
RIM is to launch BlackBerry Mobile Fusion, a web-based console that lets companies manage BlackBerry, Android and iOS devices.Photo credit: Ben Woods
BlackBerry Mobile Fusion was officially unveiled on Tuesday,
although it was first
trailed half a year ago when RIM announced it was buying the
mobile device management (MDM) company Ubitexx.
"BlackBerry Mobile Fusion brings together our industry-leading
BlackBerry Enterprise Server technology for BlackBerry devices with
mobile device management capabilities for iOS and Android devices, all
managed from one web-based console," RIM enterprise product management
chief Alan Panezic said in a statement.
BlackBerry Mobile Fusion includes BlackBerry Enterprise Server
5.0.3 for managing RIM's smartphones, and also has specific management
capabilities for the company's PlayBook tablet. This, along with the
fact that RIM has had years to develop over 500 IT policies for its
own devices, means the new console can manage Blackberry and PlayBook devices to a greater degree than it can devices from rival manufacturers.
According to RIM, BlackBerry Mobile Fusion can provide some
functionality for all supported mobile devices. This includes asset
management; configuration management; security and policy definition
and management; application and connectivity management; and user- and
However, functionality will vary depending on the device in
question, RIM's enterprise marketing director for the EMEA region, Tim
Hodkinson, said on Tuesday.
Our goal is to provide as much manageability and security of those iOS and Android devices as the operating systems and hardware allow us.– Tim Hodkinson, RIM
"With other consumer platforms there simply aren't the same levels
of manageability," Hodkinson told ZDNet UK. "Our goal is to provide as
much manageability and security of those iOS and Android devices as
the operating systems and hardware allow us."
Hodkinson pointed out that, even within the Android platform, there
can be significant variation in the capabilities of device hardware
and the version of the operating system used on different devices.
Nonetheless, he said companies were much more open to
bring-your-own-device policies than they were two or three years
Indeed, Hodkinson said RIM's main motivation in releasing
BlackBerry Mobile Fusion was that its customers had been clamouring
for such a console. "It's a multi-platform world now," he said.
Gartner analyst Carolina Milanesi agreed with that analysis,
telling ZDNet UK that the release was "about RIM remaining relevant in
the enterprise market where organisations are adopting a multi-platform
"For now I see this as a defensive move by RIM, not an aggressive
move to compete with mobile device management companies. Maybe in time
this is something they will want to pursue more aggressively, but for
now it is about staying in the enterprise market by giving options to
their customers," Milanesi said.
Hodkinson stressed that RIM did not see BlackBerry Mobile Fusion as
a "separate standalone product line", but as "very much of the
BlackBerry platform". He also said the company stood a good chance
against MDM competitors such as Google,
"MDM is a nascent market we've been very excited about," he said.
"There is a lot of competition, but there's everything to win. We do
see the MDM space as an opportunity for us."
Hodkinson also pointed out that RIM already has a large presence in
the enterprise and small-to-medium-sized business markets.
"Those customers are already used to our management experience for
both corporate BlackBerry devices and BlackBerry devices that
individuals bring in themselves," he said. "We already have a big
customer base in that space [and now] customer demand has helped us
deal with other devices."
Pricing for the new console has not yet been announced, although
Hodkinson indicated it would not be far off what RIM charges for its
existing BlackBerry management tools.
Some enterprise customers are already testing BlackBerry Mobile
Fusion in an early beta phase. Other customers can register now to be
selected for a closed beta in January, and the product will be available in late March.
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