Blackberry announced a new product yesterday, Mobile Fusion. It is basically an update to the Blackberry Enterprise Server that has long been a dominant player in enterprise IT, but with a new twist: compatibility. In addition to managing blackberries, the software will also be able to manage Android and iOS devices.
The new product (assuming it works as advertised) will be pretty exciting for many Enterprise IT personnel who are overwhelmed by the number of new devices that they are trying to securely and reliably get email to. This is particularly true of companies that have extremely high security requirements (banks, law firms, etc..). Many of these companies have limited their employees to Blackberries (as opposed to allowing Android or iOS devices) for security reasons. They will now be able to allow lower level employees to bring in their personal devices and hook them in to the network without worrying as much about security (Blackberries are still more secure). This, of course, can save the company quite a bit of money over buying blackberries and phone lines for their employees.
While I love the product, I can’t understand the business decision. I have long been of the belief that if Blackberries weren’t more secure and easier for enterprises to manage than iOS and Android devices then there would be no need for them. I expected some startup or a company like IBM or Microsoft to someday create a product like Mobile Fusion and I thought it would spell the beginning of the end for Blackberry. That’s why I’m surprised that Blackberry made the product themselves. Today, Blackberry’s market capitalization is $9B and I have a hard time believing that that is justified if they’re shooting themselves in the foot on the device side of their business. Perhaps they’re preparing to separate the company in to a management side and a phone side (the phone side would probably be acquired quickly by Microsoft, IBM, Google or the like)? Perhaps they see the end of their phone business coming and would prefer to be a successful $3B management company then fight for their phones and watch the company die? Perhaps I’m missing something?