BlackBerry recently made the surprising announcement that it has entered a partnership with Samsung, one of its key rivals in the mobile marketplace.
Indeed, it’s because of the rise of Android-based Samsung smartphones – along with Apple’s iPhones – that BlackBerry has fallen so far behind in a space in which it used to be the dominant force, especially in enterprise.
However, it seems that the Canadian firm has taken an “If you can’t beat them, join them” approach to its enterprise security software strategy, with the revelation that its latest end-to-end security platform, BlackBerry Enterprise Server 12, will be available as an alternative to Samsung’s own Knox security software on Samsung tablets and smartphones.
“BlackBerry has developed a very close partnership with Samsung and we’re committed to deepening the interaction between our engineering and product development teams for the long term,” said John Sims, BlackBerry president of global enterprise services, on the announcement of the deal.
“It is a natural progression in our path to providing our customers with more alternatives to meet their evolving mobile needs. Samsung Knox offers a number of hardware and software security features and our partnership allows us to tightly integrate these capabilities with BES12,” he added.
According to Beatriz Valle, analyst at Frost & Sullivan, the deal is a “good idea” for BlackBerry “because BlackBerry’s hardware business is now practically over, it’s only a niche business for some hardcore loyal customers”.
But with the firm now focused on providing MDM for the enterprise, she told Computing that for BlackBerry, a partnership with a bigger smartphone company represents a “clever move” from which both firms benefit.
“It’s a very symbiotic deal for both companies. Samsung capitalises on BlackBerry’s enterprise background and BlackBerry is capitalising on Samsung’s penetration of mobile devices. So both of them are benefiting from it,” said Valle.
Tyler Shields, mobile and security analyst at Forrester, also told Computing the partnership represents intelligent move for BlackBerry as it looks to push its security software onto a smartphone manufacturer with a much higher active user base.
“BlackBerry is making a very smart move attempting to increase its market reach in the mobile security and management space,” he said, before adding BlackBerry’s reputation for security will help to gain a BES 12 audience on Android.
“BlackBerry has a long-standing DNA in the security space and this transition to a cross-platform security and management solution has been in the works since John Chen took the CEO role,” Shields explained.
“It’s a calculated move that allows the software side of BlackBerry to extend rapidly even if the hardware anchor continues to drag the overall numbers downward,” he added.
The deal also means that through adoption of BES 12, Samsung can attempt to gain a stronger foothold in the enterprise. It’s somewhere the firm has struggled to establish itself as a real player due to the perceived security weaknesses of the Android operating system that powers the vast majority of Samsung devices.
“Samsung recognises that the Knox effort has had a lukewarm reception from enterprises customers,” said Shields, who told Computing that he ultimately believes the BlackBerry Samsung tie-up “is a positive for the enterprise in that it keeps the competitive heat on Apple”, which is now seen as the go-to secure enterprise smartphone by many businesses and IT leaders.
“Samsung and BlackBerry can attempt to give a more complete, stronger, ecosystem than each one alone. This partnership will help push innovation in the mobile space going forward,” he concluded.