BlackBerry is hoping to find new relevance in the mobile device world with the introduction of a new set of Web-based tools for managing iOS and Android-based devices. The Web tools, which haven't launched yet, are promised to make life easier for Administrators that need to manage iPhones and iPads, as well as Android and BlackBerry smartphones.
BlackBerry goes for cross-platform management in move to stay in the mobile game
A statement from BlackBerry, formerly known as RIM, said,
Administrators can secure, deploy and manage apps. Administrators will be able to build a catalog of public apps from the App Store, Google Play and the BlackBerry World storefront, and then view app distribution and usage for all users and devices.
The system will also support corporation-wide management of security settings, device activation, app management, and compliance monitoring.
The announcement was a smart move for BlackBerry considering its smartphone business has tanked thanks to the popularity of the iPhone and Android-based smartphones. The company recently withdrew from the consumer market to focus on business customers, and now enterprise services for companies that aren't strictly BlackBerry smartphone users.
In September T-Mobile announced it was dropping BlackBerry from its product lineup, which wasn't much of a surprise since the carrier sold BlackBerry smartphones primarily to the consumer market. Other carriers haven't followed suit yet, but that's always an option if they decide BlackBerry's devices aren't pulling their weight.
As fewer businesses and consumers rely on BlackBerry, the company needs to find alternative forms of revenue. Moving into support services for its competition is one way to do that, especially since BlackBerry can potentially hold on to the same corporate customers that previously used its mobile devices.
BlackBerry's smart move, however, may be too late to salvage what's left of its business. The company continues to post losses quarter after quarter, and is currently on the hunt for a buyer. Fairfax Financial Holdings, BlackBerry's largest shareholder, made a US$4.7 billion bid, but so far investors aren't holding much hope the deal will come together.
Meanwhile, BlackBerry continues to push out smartphones that are received with more meh than yeah. The company's BlackBerry Messenger, or BBM, platform for iOS fumbled, too, when its app appeared in Apple's App Store, but was pulled within hours of its launch.
Without much to instill confidence from its current product launches, there isn't any reason to expect more from BlackBerry's cloud-based device management services. That said, BlackBerry has years of experience managing its own products, so maybe this time the company can deliver with a solid service.
BlackBerry is promising low-cost, simple deployment and management for multiple mobile platforms. The new enterprise management tools are still in beta and the company is hoping to launch, at least in a limited capacity, by November.
It's possible BlackBerry could have a hit on its hands this time, or it could be facing another PlayBook failure. The trick this time is convincing enough enterprise customers that its multi-platform device management service will be better than what they're already using -- and that may harder than BlackBerry expects.