* Feature replicates BlackBerry Balance for other platforms
* Move may help stem declines in service revenue
* BlackBerry shares edge higher
By Euan Rocha
TORONTO, March 14 (Reuters) – BlackBerry
will offer technology to separate and secure work and personal
data on mobile devices powered by Google Inc’s Android
platform and Apple Inc’s iOS operating system, the
company said on Thursday.
The new Secure Work Space feature will be available before
the end of June will be managed through BlackBerry Enterprise
Service 10, the platform that allows BlackBerry’s corporate and
government clients to handle devices using different operating
systems on their networks.
The move will encourage large customers to continue to use
BlackBerry’s services to manage devices on their networks, even
as employees use them for their personal devices, which could
create security breaches.
In the ultra-competitive smartphone market, BlackBerry has
ceded ground to rivals like Apple’s iPhone, Samsung Electronics
Co’s Galaxy line and other devices based on the
Android operating system.
To regain market share and return to profitability,
BlackBerry introduced a new line of smartphones powered by its
BlackBerry 10 operating system earlier this year. The touch
screen version, dubbed the Z10, is on sale in more than 20
countries, while a device called the Q10 with a physical
keyboard will be available in April.
The new devices have Balance, a feature that keeps corporate
and personal data separate. It allows information technology
departments to manage the corporate content on a device, while
ensuring privacy for users, who can store and use personal apps
and content on the same phone without corporate oversight.
With Secure Work Space, “we’re extending as many of these
(Balance) features as possible to other platforms,” David Smith,
BlackBerry’s head of mobile enterprise computing, said in a
BlackBerry’s move comes as Samsung, whose Galaxy devices
have gained great popularity, attempts to make itself a more
viable option for business customers with security features such
as Samsung Knox and SAFE, or Samsung for Enterprise.
BlackBerry said Secure Work Space meant clients would not
need to configure and manage expensive virtual private network
(VPN) infrastructures that give the devices access to data and
applications that reside behind corporate firewalls.
“Secure work space also offers the same end-to-end
encryption for data in transit as we have offered on BlackBerry
for many years, so there is no need for a VPN,” Peter Devenyi,
head of enterprise software, said in an interview.
The new feature could also help stave-off declines in
service revenue. That business has long been a cash cow for
BlackBerry because of the large clients that pay to utilize its
extensive network and security offerings.
However, the company has been under pressure to reduce its
infrastructure access fees. Late last year, it said it would do
so during the transition to the BlackBerry 10 platform.
As a result of the changes, BlackBerry’s service revenue is
expected to decline.
Giving its large array of corporate clients the ability to
manage BlackBerry devices, along with Android smartphones and
iPhones on their networks may encourage corporate and government
clients to continue to pay for and use BlackBerry’s device
BlackBerry plans to report quarterly results on March 28.
Last week, Chief Executive Officer Thorsten Heins said sales
of the Z10 had surpassed BlackBerry’s expectations in emerging
markets like India, where cheaper entry-level phones are
On Wednesday, the company said it had received an order for
1 million BlackBerry 10 smartphones – its largest ever to a
single customer, and its shares jumped.
BlackBerry’s volatile stock closed up 8.2 percent at $15.65
on the Nasdaq on Wednesday, while its Toronto-listed shares rose
by a similar margin to C$16.04.
Shares of BlackBerry were up a further 0.4 percent at $16.71
in trading before the morning bell on Thursday in the United
UPDATE 1-BlackBerry plans security feature for Android, iPhone platforms – Reuters