BlackBerry has finally released a version of its mobile management platform with an ability to deal with Android and Apple iOS devices, just days before its latest quarterly results are out.
The company said Tuesday that version 10.1 of BlackBerry Enterprise Service 10 is now available that includes an option called Secure Work Space for Android and iOS. It is almost the equivalent of BlackBerry Balance, which lets BES separate personal and corporate data on BB 10 devices for better security in organizations that let staff bring their own devices.
“As our dependency on mobile solutions grows, and as a greater variety of mobile devices enter the workplace, the need for solutions to manage and secure these devices has never been greater,” said David J. Smith, BlackBerry’s executive vice-president for enterprise mobile computing said in a statement. “In today’s ‘bring your own device world’, Secure Work Space is a differentiated solution that brings key elements of the BlackBerry security platform and mobile device management to iOS and Android devices.”
BlackBerry is hoping that broadening the reach of BES 10 will in part help stem the tide of organizations that have abandoned its handsets because of BYOD policies. If BES 10 is good enough for mobile management, the reasoning goes, then organizations might also look more favourably on the latest BB 10 handsets, the Z10 and Q10.
At the same time, however, other companies are toughening their products. Samsung Electronics, for example, has a version of the Android operating system called Knox which separates personal and corporate data on select Samsung handsets. It works with a certain number of mobile device management suites.
BlackBerry charges $99 for an annual client access licence per device for Secure Work Space.
Meanwhile financial and industry analysts are preparing for Friday’s release of BlackBerry’s latest quarterly financial results. The numbers will show if the company is sustaining momentum following the release of the Z10 and Q10. In the last quarter BlackBerry [TSX: BB] recorded a before tax profit thanks in part to slashing costs. But it also sold only 6 million handsets, continuing a long drop in sales.
The next-generation Z10, with its all-touch screen and Q10, with the familiar physical keyboard, are supposed to address that — as well as the lower-priced Q5 in developing markets which may be even more important as BlackBerry sales in developing countries is growing fast. Some think Q10 sales are more important than Z10, because most BlackBerry owners have devices with physical keyboards. However, the Q10 hasn’t been released in many countries – in fact it’s only just went on sale in the U.S., so sales results will barely be reflected in Friday’s numbers.
The other question in the minds of everyone is whether sales of Z10/Q10 in major North American and European markets will be driven largely by BlackBerry owners who want to upgrade their handsets. When that group stops buying, will sales be sustained by new buyers?
In a note to investors this morning, Kris Thompson of National Bank Financial predicts the company will show a total of 8.2 million devices were sold in the quarter, including a higher than 4 million BB10 devices. Revenue will be about $3.9 billion, the report anticipates.