BoxTone mobile support manager now tracks iPhone, others

IT can now monitor usage patterns of ActiveSync-enabled devices, but product's features remain BlackBerry-centered

BlackBerry monitoring- and management-software-maker BoxTone is expanding its boundaries today with the announcement of BoxTone v5.0, which not only brings new BlackBerry-related enterprise support options, but now manages, monitors and tracks non-Research in Motion (RIM) devices, including Apple iPhones, handsets running Windows Mobile, Palm WebOS smartphones, and other gadgets that use Microsoft's ActiveSync technology.

Additional enhancements found in the BoxTone v5.0 release include the ability to identify and quantify staffers' BlackBerry-related productivity during non-working hours -- what BoxTone CMO Brian C. Reed dubs the "defend the mobile spend" feature. BoxTone v5.0 lets smartphone administrators track each mobile user's off-hours BlackBerry usage habits in real time to identify specific productivity gains.

[ Discover iPhone apps for business and IT pros the easy way: Use InfoWorld's business iPhone apps finder. | Get the InfoWorld editors' 28-page hands-on look at the new iPhone OS from the perspective of business and IT pros. ]

"One of our early release customers has used this to dramatically expand their BlackBerry deployment by proving to management just how valuable BlackBerry is to their mobile workers."

BoxTone v5.0 is also heavily focused on helping organizations control the influx of employee-owned devices in the enterprise, Reed says. The product's new device ownership features help organizations determine which specific devices are employee-owned vs. corporate-owned, as well as track and ensure IT-policy-compliance on those handhelds while protecting infrastructure from "rogue" devices and/or bad applications.

The update also merges BoxTone's software for smartphone administrators with its on-device client for BlackBerry user-self-service and troubleshooting, called BoxTone Expert, though these features are available only to BlackBerry admins since BoxTone Expert is not yet available for other platforms. (Read my full review of BoxTone Expert here.) That means BoxTone BlackBerry admins can now use the new "BoxTone Expert Connected" to pull usage statistics and diagnostic information directly from user devices.

And finally, new roaming and data-overage tracking and reporting features utilize BoxTone Expert Connected to help organizations identify individuals or groups of individuals who incur the most roaming and/or data fees, as well as which networks they most frequent roam, when and for how long.

Today's announcement could be a significant one for BoxTone and its competitors, as the company is already quite popular among enterprises, government agencies and managed service providers (MSPs) --companies that provide device-management services to other firms. In the past rival software makers with smartphone-management products for more than one platform, like Zenprise, had a bit of an edge on BoxTone, because it focused solely on BlackBerry devices. Today's announcement levels that ground, and makes BoxTone a potential smartphone management option for a wider array of organizations.

This story, "BoxTone mobile support manager now tracks iPhone, others" was originally published by Computerworld.