After launching its mobile device management (MDM) platform, called BlackBerry Mobile Fusion in the U.S., the Canadian Research in Motion (RIM) gathered journalists and clients in São Paulo to unveil the solution in Brazil. Mobile Fusion is a single interface that provides a unified view for managing devices; it integrates RIM’s enterprise server (BES), device service and universal device service, with the ability to manage Apple iOS and Google Android devices. The Windows Phone is not supported yet, but RIM said that it is in future plans.
RIM’s new interface comes during a very difficult period for the company. For the fiscal first quarter, RIM lost $518 million, after losing another $125 million the previous quarter. In addition, RIM’s new BlackBerry 10 smartphone might not be available until early 2013, and by that time, 5,000 RIM employees will have lost their jobs.
It has definitely not been an easy time for the BlackBerry-maker, and Mobile Fusion could help the company avoid losing even more market share, especially in the Latin American region, where it still dominates the enterprise market for smart devices. During the presentation, RIM’s managing director for Brazil, Peter Gould, cited an IDC study which found that 47% of Brazilian companies use BlackBerries for their enterprise mobility solutions. RIM’s market share in other Latin America’s countries is about the same, and in Argentina and Colombia specifically, it is larger.
RIM’s release of the BlackBerry Mobile Fusion also comes at a time when the bring-your-own-device (BYOD) trend is growing. It is uncertain how long IT departments or chief information officers (CIOs) will have control over which devices employees use. In fact, employees are already introducing operating systems and devices into the corporate environment that CIOs have not chosen to be “the official ones.”
RIM’s market share could be threatened by the increase of both consumerization and BYOD since BlackBerry has not been a top consumer choice. Globally, RIM dropped to the No. 7 spot in end user mobile device sales in the fourth quarter of 2011, with a 10.7% decline, according to Gartner. As for the whole year of 2011, RIM sold approximately 51,500 units worldwide, holding a market share of 2.9%, slightly less than its 3.1% share in 2010.
The consultant firm noted that the delay in releasing the BlackBerry 10 platform will further impair RIM’s ability to retain users. Gartner also pointed out that the company’s biggest challenge is still to expand the developer base around its ecosystem and convince developers to work and innovate with BlackBerry 10.
When focusing its MDM platform on iOS and Android, RIM shows that it is making an effort to keep its enterprise market share. The goal, as RIM’s Gould explained, is to take advantage of existing enterprise customers. “BYOD is a problem to solve. The whole world cannot be a part of it, so they are embracing this trend. We aim to allow companies to manage multiple platforms using a single solution, Mobile Fusion,” he said.
During the event, it was clear that RIM aims to enhance its presence with its current customers, since they already have RIM platforms. “It would be easier to add Mobile Fusion than to buy an MDM solution from another vendor,” said Renato Gil, RIM Brasil’s accounting manager.
“It is a good strategy to monetize BYOD,” said Frost & Sullivan’s Fernando Belfort. He believes RIM will succeed, since companies are looking for MDM solutions. “Mobile Fusion is very technically advanced and very integrated, which differentiates it,” he said.
Security comes first
Many enterprises chose RIM for security reasons. However, this might change with the advent of BYOD. “Our DNA, our background is in the enterprise market. BlackBerry is known for its security,” Gould said. RIM aims to take the confidence enterprises have in BlackBerry devices to sell current customers its MDM platform, while at the same time, it looks to address problems posed by the future, heterogeneous device environment.
According to Infonetics Research, the enterprise mobile device security market is poised to explode for one simple reason: all over the world, employees are replacing desktops and laptops with smartphones and tablets, and IT departments are scrambling to connect those devices and protect them. “Success selling security solutions in this space is really about two things: allowing an IT department to connect all the devices they want or need to connect; and providing a consistent level of security policy and enforcement for all those devices,” Jeff Wilson, Infonetics Research principal analyst for security, pointed out in a survey.
Looking at how individual mobile platforms drive the need for security solutions, Infonetics Research noted that there is near parity: 65% of companies are worried about threats aimed at Apple iOS, 62% about BlackBerry devices, and 59% have Android keeping them up at night. Most companies use a mix of platforms at the same time, a trend that will likely continue indefinitely.
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