Research in Motion is starting to look beyond the BlackBerry smartphone. For years the company’s mobile phones had dominated corporate settings, but Android and iOS devices have been chipping away at BlackBerry’s enterprise market. But RIM isn’t just a phone maker, and today the company introduced a forward-looking product that could help the company survive even if nobody ever buys a BlackBerry phone or tablet again.
It’s called BlackBerry Mobile Fusion, and it’s software that IT departments can use to manage a number of different mobile devices. It supports BlackBerry OS, iOS, and Android and gives IT managers a single console they can use to manage each device and platform.
BlackBerry Mobile Fusion supports the built-in features offered by each operating system. So if your phone doesn’t, for instance, support remote wipe capabilities, Mobile Fusion can’t help.
But the move will make it possible for businesses, government institutions, or other organizations that issue BlackBerry, iOS, and Android phones to staff to manage devices. It will offer the ability to activate devices, reset passwords, remotely lock or wipe a phone, or even push software or apps over the air.
Basically, it brings some of the features that had only been available in BlackBerry Enterprise to other platforms.
The new software should be available early in 2012. Obviously RIM still hopes customers buy BlackBerry OS devices, but it’s interesting to see the company push a product designed for the modern, multi-platform reality.
Ideally, this could be the best future business for RIM: Providing and supporting back-end, secure networks in the cloud for enterprise mobile devices that would include iOS, Android, Windows Phone 7, whatever platform. Future RIM devices may be designed and marketed only to enterprise and government where high security and confidentiality are essential.
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