RIM BlackBerry services open up to iOS, Android

BlackBerry Mobile Fusion is an attempt by Research In Motion to maintain its strong presence in the business world by offering to support other devices, in a big break from its inward-looking tradition.

RIM BlackBerry PlayBook
RIM won't just be supporting BlackBerry devices any more. Soon it'll also give iOS and Android the BlackBerry treatment. Tom Krazit/CNET

Research In Motion now aims to support both iOS and Android smartphones and tablets--a break from the company's previous BlackBerry-only focus.

The iPhone 4S may soon be managed by BlackBerry's server. Apple

RIM introduced today BlackBerry Mobile Fusion, a mobile device management service that takes advantage of the BlackBerry Enterprise Server technology to track and monitor different phones and tablets.

With BlackBerry Mobile Fusion, RIM is attempting to preserve its hold over the business customer even as more of them leave the BlackBerry fold for other flashier devices. Mobile Fusion allows RIM to play a role in companies and government agencies, even if its BlackBerrys are no longer used. For RIM, it also represents a fundamentally different view of the mobile world from only a few years ago, when it would have never considered opening up its core service to other platforms.

The Mobile Fusion service gives RIM an in on the bring-your-own-device trend that's starting to pick up momentum with businesses. Increasingly, corporate IT departments are letting their employees use whatever smartphone they want. A number of companies have jumped into the business of supporting that trend .

RIM is taking advantage of one of its core assets: the strength of its BlackBerry Enterprise Server. For all of the knocks that its phones receive, its BlackBerry service remains the most efficient at delivering e-mails in a secure and speedy manner. That's particularly important with as employee-owned phones increasingly run confidential corporate applications and data.

RIM said it is in early tests with select business customers, and will have a wider trial with more customers in January, with planned general availability in March.

The services include standard management tools including the ability to remotely lock or wipe the phone, manage a phone's secure wireless connection, and selectively providing or denying access to certain corporate data.

RIM said Mobile Fusion will be able to use the capabilities on BlackBerry Enterprise Server 5.0.3. It also said there are additional features for BlackBerry smartphones and PlayBook tablets.

About the author

Roger Cheng is the executive editor in charge of breaking news for CNET News. Prior to this, he was on the telecommunications beat and wrote for Dow Jones Newswires and The Wall Street Journal for nearly a decade. He's a devoted Trojan alum and Los Angeles Lakers fan.

 

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