BlackBerry continues to expand its support for Android and iOS with Secure Work Space, which separates work and personal apps and data, as the company tries to hold on to enterprise users by becoming more platform neutral.
Remaining relevant in a world where more than nine out of 10 smartphones shipped are based on either Google's Android or Apple's iOS isn't easy for BlackBerry. But the company still has fans in enterprise IT departments and hopes to remain an option for users by continuing to embrace the two dominant platforms. The company can already manage devices based on Android and iOS, and support for BlackBerry Messenger is on the way.
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BlackBerry announced Secure Work Space in March and has now made good on a promise to ship it before June 30. The software is an add-on to BlackBerry Enterprise Service (BES) 10, and it adds a managed container to protect corporate data and applications running on Android and iOS devices.
Users get integrated email, calendar and contacts, as well as secure browser access to intranets and document editing capabilities. Data is protected both when stored on the device and when transferred to and from enterprise servers, according to BlackBerry.
"The concept is right and very similar to what AT&T offers with Toggle. Creating two different "personas" on mobile devices is becoming a best practise for enterprises. Buying it from BlackBerry is probably most relevant for enterprises that have a major commitment to BlackBerry 10 and BES10," said Leif-Olof Wallin, research vice president at Gartner.
On BlackBerry 10 smartphones, BlackBerry has tightly integrated a personal and a work environment with the Balance feature.
BlackBerry is far from the only vendor that has adopted this concept. One competitor is Good Technology, which on Tuesday announced a whole host of new applications compatible with its Dynamics Security Mobility platform, which includes support for both app wrapping and encrypted app containers. The list of newcomers includes Mobility for SAP and remote access app Splashtop.
But for those interested in Secure Work Space, which is based on software from OpenPeak, the BES 10 server software is free to download. Annual client access licenses for Secure Work Space are $99 per year and device. For enterprises that want to get their feet wet, the platform is also available as a 60-day free trial bundle that includes device management for BlackBerry 10, iOS, and Android devices as well as Secure Work Space licenses for 50 users.
This is an important week for BlackBerry. On Friday, the company is scheduled to release results for its fiscal first quarter. The company is expected to have sold more BlackBerry 10-based smartphones during the quarter as it slashed the cost of the Z10, according to Malik Saadi, principal analyst at Informa Telecoms & Media.
"It is desperately trying to win market share at, I think, the expense of margins. I don't know if it's a good strategy, because the perception of BlackBerry as high value and a premium brand could become diluted," Saadi said.