At a BlackBerry event held earlier today in San Francisco they announced a new management-services partnership with rival Samsung Electronics. This is the very first time that the two companies have teamed up for a major product. The new partnership is designed to compete head-on with the new Apple-IBM alliance.
Wall Street liked the news and BlackBerry's stock rose 7 percent on the news to $12.06 at the close in New York, the highest price since June 2013. Samsung's Knox system, which offers a suite of secure work applications, will run on BlackBerry's new server, known as BES12, the companies said in a statement today.
Last year it was noted by InfoWorld that Samsung's "Knox is their way to get past IT's legitimate concerns over Android's generally weak security and join Apple's iOS and BlackBerry in the golden circle of trustworthy mobile devices." This new alliance will now open more doors for Samsung and BlackBerry.
According to Bloomberg, "The partnership competes with an alliance between International Business Machines Corp. and Apple Inc., whose announcement in July sent BlackBerry's shares down 12 percent in one day. BlackBerry is now teaming up with one of its biggest rivals in the growing mobile device management market."
John Sims, head of BlackBerry's enterprise services business, said at the event that "People probably didn't expect to see these two companies on the same stage, at least not willingly. We need to be able to provide a breadth of choices and do that with companies of the highest level."
The alliance may be set to expand as BlackBerry's CEO John Chen met with the heads of Chinese smartphone makers Xiaomi Corp. and Lenovo Group earlier in the week to drum up interest for the new alliance. While only time will tell how this progresses, today's announcement that Samsung is officially on board is likely to provide Xiaomi and Lenovo with a little more incentive to come on board. For more on this see Bloomberg's report.
BlackBerry Delivers New Features
A second report on BlackBerry's new Corporate servers notes that they'll include two new types of authentication technology. The first technology that will allow a user to log into a company’s virtual private corporate network from a mobile device without the need to carry around a security token – typically a piece of hardware that generates random numeric passwords enabling workers to access a VPN. BlackBerry’s technology should also lower companies’ IT costs by eliminating the need to manage the tokens, according to John Sims, head of BlackBerry’s enterprise business.
The second authentication technology will eliminate the need for an employee to have multiple passwords to access company data hosted within the cloud. It’s meant to address companies’ increasing use of cloud-based data services to avoid the costs of building and maintaining a network of servers in-house.
Another first discussed at the event today is BlackBerry's proposed software tool that will allow companies to avoid paying costs incurred by employees using their devices for personal use. With the software, dubbed WorkLife, smartphone users will be able to have a separate personal and work phone number attached to one device, making it easier for employers to pay for work-related calls and messaging traffic while not assuming costs for personal use of a corporate device.
And finally, BlackBerry launched their planned voice and video conference meeting app that’s specifically tailored to work on mobile devices. It will be integrated with BlackBerry’s BBM messaging service. End users will also be able to download it as a standalone application from various mobile app stores, Mr. Sims confirmed.
On the video conferencing front, it should be noted that in February we posted a new patent application report covering this very important topic for the enterprise. At that time we noted that Apple's new invention revealed a new architecture relating to "Multi-Participant Conference Setup." The sophistication of Apple's architecture as noted in their patent pending invention, could suggest that Apple is contemplating a FaceTime Pro version of their application for the enterprise that may one day be able to compete with the likes of Cisco's WebEx. Of course that now extends to competing with BlackBerry's new mobile device centric video conferencing application. To review Apple's patent pending invention, see our full report here.