'Dual personality' security delays dog Samsung and BlackBerry

BlackBerry 10 users also face omissions in the new OS's sync capabilities

BlackBerry and Samsung have separately launched security and management software with dual-personality features for their latest Z10 and Galaxy S 4 smartphones, respectively. But Samsung has delayed its strongly marketed Knox for Samsung server software, and BlackBerry reportedly has had delayed carrier deployment of its Balance for BlackBerry service. (BlackBerry's management server for Balance is available to enterprises, but the carrier option was meant for small businesses that do not manage their own IT.)

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Just how available are the touted dual-personality feaures?
Dual-personality software keeps personal and work data separate on a smartphone, allowing an IT shop to quickly delete sensitive corporate data from a worker-owned smartphone should the worker lose the device or leave the company without affecting the user's personal data. It also separates user apps and data from work apps and data to prevent malware from crossing over or corporate information from being intermigled with personal information.

Samsung's Knox client software is installed in the firmware of its latest Galaxy S 4 smartphone, which started shipping last weekend. But Samsung admitted that the activation of all Knox's features won't be available until "a later date," depending on activations of server software by its distribution channels, which includes hundreds of cellular carriers that support Samsung products.

BlackBerry used Samsung's Knox delays as an excuse to promote its similar Balance technology. But analysts wonder how many carriers or enterprises have actually installed and activated the server-side software that supports Balance, called BlackBerry Enterprise Service 10. BlackBerry didn't respond when asked to comment on the number of BES 10 activations or how far along it has gone in working with carriers to support small business users of Balance that don't have IT shops.

BlackBerry said in its latest earnings call that it expects a small decline in services revenue to 35 percent, down from 36 percent, of all revenues in the first quarter. That decline has prompted questions about the number of carriers and enterprises that are installing BES 10, which is essential to making Balance function.

Many enterprises are side-stepping BES 10 altogether in favor of smartphone management features contained in Exchange ActiveSync (EAS), said Bob Egan, an analyst at the Sepharim Group. The BlackBerry 10 OS is the first BlackBerry operating system that works with EAS; previous versions required BES to gain any security. EAS is used by Apple's iOS, Google's Android, and Microsoft's Windows Phone for many of their security capabilities.

BlackBerry Z10 users upset overmisisng sync features
Some BlackBerry Z10 smartphone buyers are frustarted by another delay. They want to know when it will be possible to sync from their desktops all their Outlook contacts, tasks, notes, and calendars to the new Z10 or the coming Q10. Although BlackBerry 10 syncs to Exchange servers, it doesn't directly sync all data directly with Outlook on a PC, for users who have no Exchange server. The inability to fully sync with Outlook functions has outraged some users on various BlackBerry forums, including the BlackBerry Support Community Forums.

The sync problem also caught the attention of independent analyst Jeff Kagan, who said he has continued to use an older BlackBerry Torch smartphone instead of a new Z10 because he can't sync up his desktop with Outlook Notes and MemoPad, which he has used for years. "BlackBerry must hang on to existing customers and add more," Kagan said in an email. "Not offering this service to existing customers is a big warning sign to users."

When asked about the sync problem with Outlook, a BlackBerry spokeswoman said only that an updated version of BlackBerry Link will "come out shortly to allow contact sync with Microsoft Outlook."

The delays at Samsung with Knox and possible adoption problems for BES 10 used with BlackBerry Balance, along with the sync problem with Outlook and BlackBerry 10 smartphones, could be temporary and short-lived, said Jack Gold, an analyst at J. Gold Associates. "Some users will be understanding of delays and some won't," Gold said. "It also makes a difference how the company addresses these things. If you ignore complaints, you risk losing control of the situation and having it get overblown in the blogosphere. If you handle the complaints honestly and tell users what to expect and when, you usually don't have long-term damage."

This article, 'Dual personality' could morph into Jekyll and Hyde for Samsung and BlackBerry, was originally published at Computerworld.com. Matt Hamblen covers mobile and wireless, smartphones and other handhelds, and wireless networking for Computerworld. Follow Matt on Twitter at @matthamblen or subscribe to Matt's RSS feed. His email address is mhamblen@computerworld.com. See more by Matt Hamblen on Computerworld.com. Read more about bring your own device (byod) in Computerworld's Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) Topic Center.

This story, "'Dual personality' security delays dog Samsung and BlackBerry" was originally published by Computerworld.

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