New BlackBerry mobile management tools ready for download

RIM hopes upgraded BES 10 tool can help boost BlackBerry sales; analysts are skeptical on eve of new RIM smartphone launch

Analysts are unsure whether RIM's new enterprise mobility software, now available for download, can halt the migration away from BlackBerry smartphones.

The new BES 10 tool set combines security, device and application management for multivendor tablets and smartphones.

The new BlackBerry Enterprise Service 10 (BES 10) software supports devices running BlackBerry, Android and iOS operating systems. The software will also run on the BlackBerry 10 smartphones that are slated to be unveiled on Jan. 30, Research in Motion said.

The software carries a one-time fee of $99 per supported device when installed on a corporate server. A limited 60 day free trial download of the software is also available.

While RIM said that BES 10 offers capabilities not available on competitive mobility management products, analysts say that it's future is largely tied to any success by the two new BlackBerry 10 smartphones.

One, dubbed the Z10, will have a 4.2-in. touchscreen, according to multiple unconfirmed reports. The other device will have a physical keyboard, according to earlier RIM statements.

RIM's future success "is more about the devices, but the BES 10 server support is especially important for enterprises," said Phillip Redman, an analyst at Gartner, in an email.

However, he added, "I don't think that BES 10 is going to convince IT or users" to go with RIM.

RIM today touted its 10 years of enterprise mobility management expertise and called its software both cost efficient and reliable, and the most widely used device management system worldwide. Previous versions of BlackBerry Enterprise Server software are used by thousands of companies, RIM said.

RIM won't say how many existing BES licenses have been sold, but has said there are more than 80 million BlackBerry smartphone and tablet users globally.

The success of BES 10 could come from RIM's decision to support Android and iOS devices as well as its own, analysts said. BlackBerry is now struggling with a share of about 5% of the smartphone market because many of its past users have converted to Android or iOS, according to several analysts.

Providing a single console to manage BlackBerry, Android and iOS devices could prove a path to renerwed relevancy, analysts said.

BES 10 also offers a way for businesses to manage apps that workers get through the BlackBerry World for Work online store. IT shops can push and install mandatory apps to employees, whether they use corporate-owned devices or their own.

In addition, BES 10 is integrated with Active Directory and can help provide VPN and encryption security to devices.

The software includes new BlackBerry Balance technology, which allows for two different secure spaces within the device OS to separate corporate from personal data, said Jeff Holleran, senior director of enterprise product management at RIM.

"The feedback from hundreds of enterprise customers who tested it is that this a big win for them," Holleran said.

When a user of a BlackBerry 10 device searches through email and other messages, Balance makes it possible to see work and personal emails simultaneously, while the two versions of an inbox (personal and corporate) are segregated on the OS.

Holleran called that Balance functionality unique.

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