At the same time as it unveils BlackBerry Enterprise Server 12, BlackBerry has also arranged a security partnership that shows the company will stop at almost nothing to stay in the game – a tie-up with rival Samsung.
BES 12 introduces features that the faltering Canadian mobile firm has been talking up for months, including a more aggressive cross-platform EMM [enterprise mobile management] offering, a scalable architecture allowing up to 25,000 devices per server and 150,000 per domain, and an improved user management interface, but the launch was overshadowed by news of a new relationship with Samsung.
BlackBerry has announced that “early next year” enterprise customers using Samsung Galaxy smartphones with Samsung’s enterprise security software KNOX will “have a new choice”.
A “tightly integrated end-to-end secure solution that beings together BES 12 … with Galaxy smartphones and tablets” will now be on the menu.
While Samsung already has, reasons BlackBerry, “multiple layers of hardware- and software-based protection”, BlackBerry “brings to the partnership a class-leading cross-platform enterprise mobility management solution and a highly secure network infrastructure”.
This tie-up can only mean good things for both companies. With Samsung suffering a 73.9 per cent profit drop in its third quarter results this year – despite the contined popularity of its Galaxy series of devices – an extra incemtive for the enterprise to pick up on its wares should help it enter new markets.
Android remains extrememly popular with consumers, but its open nature and unavoidably patchy security have long been a worry for enterprises. KNOX seems a reasonable idea – even if it is restricted to Samsung devices that support its prorietary virtualisation technology – but as a brand it hardly caries as much weight in security circles as BlackBerry.
As for BlackBerry, jumping in bed with Samsung may finally help it to move beyond its own hardware. Having already made a move into the Android market with the native app support built into BlackBerry 10 (which many execs seem to keep forgetting to use), the company clearly has aspirations.
It’s been clear for a while that BlackBerry really isn’t leveraging what appeared to be an ambitious re-think of its ongoing strategy in the EMM arena. For every trumpeting of the benefits of its EMM offerings compared with to the likes of Good Technology, the firm has been keen to state that hardware “does remain a focus” and has released yet more products that really don’t fit into the modern mobile arena.
Branching out on to other platforms in such a direct way can only work in BlackBerry’s favour, and if Samsung gets better enterprise penetration out of the deal, that could be one in the eye for Apple.