Research In Motion's second phase of its 2012 game plan kicks into gear with the launch of BlackBerry Mobile Fusion (BMF), its new MDM platform, which the company hopes will begin a turnaround after last week's disastrous full year results.
While BMF is ostensibly designed to make life easier for IT administrators, it still doesn't allow any of Google or Apple's products to access RIMs fabled back end - BlackBerry Enterprise server - for email and other key functions. It instead use Microsoft ActiveSync as an email/sync protocol, much as many other MDM services do.
RIM claims that BMF still provides similar advantages to BES, most notably end-to-end 256-bit encryption. It also includes enforceable IT policies and over-the-air app and software installation. CBR interviewed RIMs Tim Hodkinson late last year about its capabilities (click here).
Earlier in the month it launched the long awaited update to its BlackBerry PlayBook tablet, 0S 2.0 in a bid to address that device's many failings. RIM confirmed in its disastrous full year results last week that it had now sold 500,000 Playbooks. It plans to release further Playbooks this year - despite the current model being slashed to just £169, well below cost - and which saw a $485m write-down on RIMs Playbook inventory.
And this is perhaps where BMF is meant to work best - as the Playbook back end client. This finally allows Playbook's to work somewhere close to how they were intended for email and corporate functions, even if it still requires a tethered smartphone to access BES.
RIMs BlackBerry Balance software also creates a secure corporate perimeter so that all corporate applications and data remain secure on a device and separate from personal data. This functionality will also be available on newer BlackBerry smartphones, including the upcoming BlackBerry 10 devices - which still have no release date.
"BlackBerry Mobile Fusion allows organisations to manage a mixed environment of devices in the most secure, simple, and cost efficient manner possible. It also means that businesses and government do not have to move to the lowest common denominator on security for all the devices they need to manage," said Alan Panezic, Vice President, Enterprise Product Management and Marketing at Research In Motion.
BMF is available as a free download, but will be priced by the number of devices being managed. Licenses start at $99 per user, or $4 per user per month. RIM is offering a 60 day free trial.