BlackBerry no longer owns the fast-paced, innovative smartphone world but the company, whose email-on-your-hip devices once revolutionized the industry, now aims to run it.
The change in focus was hard to miss at the company's well-attended annual conference in Florida last week, even as news of a new smartphone model and its plans to offer the popular BlackBerry Messaging (BBM) instant message service on other platforms grabbed the headlines.
The company, whose BlackBerry Enterprise Service (BES) offering has long allowed customers to manage BlackBerry devices within corporate or government networks, is now extending that feature to let customers manage non-BlackBerry devices. It is also providing security for data regardless of what devices the customers use.
"The most exciting announcement they made is their strategy to provide secure infrastructure across devices and secure iOS and Android devices in addition to BlackBerry devices," said Yaacov Cohen, who heads Harmon.ie, a company that gives users access to corporate collaboration tools such as IBM Connections and Microsoft Office 365 across a range of operating systems.
Although the move has long been anticipated, the official launch of BES 10.1 paves the way for enterprise customers to begin upgrades in the latter half of the year, a development that might also boost sales for the company's new line of Blackberry 10 smartphones.
Because it routes data through proprietary networks rather than open channels, BlackBerry has long been known among government agencies and corporations for its strong security features. Its new one-stop solution keeps it relevant for those customers even as rivals like Apple Inc (AAPL.O) and Samsung Electronics (005930.KS) look to make inroads in the domain.
"I look at BlackBerry as a provider of infrastructure for mobile computing," Cohen said. "When you look at things from this angle, given the huge need for secure infrastructure, then the position of BlackBerry can be one of total leadership, something similar to what Microsoft achieved during the switch to personal computing."
MOBILE COMPUTING FUTURE
At the BlackBerry Live conference in Florida, the company also laid out a bold vision for the BlackBerry 10 operating system that powers its new line of devices.
"BlackBerry understands mobile better than anyone