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As mobile customers increasingly look to thrid-party applications to manage their mobile devices, BlackBerry has announced that it is opening up its Blackberry 10 operating system to rivals as part of a strategy of enabling other companies’ products to manage its devices.

BlackBerry says that AirWatch, Citrix, SAP and IBM have all expressed an interest in being able to manage the company’s smart phones.

“According to Gartner, ‘Mobile device management (MDM) remains a top priority for IT buyers, and investment levels are growing steadily. Competition among players drives commoditization,’” Blackberry notes. “Gartner also notes, ‘Proliferation of and demand for workplace mobility necessitate the need for quality and flexible management tools.’ As a result of this demand, BlackBerry is working with the companies listed above to offer customers the most flexible solution to support a broader enterprise mobility strategy.”

According to a report in Computerworld, the announcement “acknowledges a growing trend for customers to turn to third-party vendors to provide mobile device management, particularly as companies have become more liberal about the variety of devices employees can bring to work.”

The new policy is Blackberry’s way of ensuring that its devices will maintain a foothold in the enterprise space, where many large-sclae networks are managed by third-party MDM applications.

BlackBerry says it will continue to offer BlackBerry Enterprise Service (BES10), its multi-platform enterprise mobility management platform, which offers management and security capabilities for company-owned and BYOD BlackBerry, iOS and Android devices. It opened the platform to iOS and Android devices and will add Windows Phone support later this year.

“MDM has become table stakes; it is no longer a meaningful point of differentiation,” said John Sims, president of BlackBerry’s global enterprise services, on the BlackBerry blog.

BES12 is coming later this year and will support iOS, Android, Windows, BlackBerry 10 and BlackBerry OS devices, Sims said. BlackBerry (Nasdaq: BBRY) also plans a multi-tenant cloud version of BES12 by March 2015.

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