Diversify, diversify, diversify! It’s common advice in the investment world, especially when the economy’s not looking so rosy. The theory is, if you hold stakes in lots of different kinds of companies, the failure of one company (or even a whole industry) won’t sink your entire portfolio.
For years, the bulk of Research in Motion’s eggs have been in one basket: BlackBerry smartphones. And it was quite the lucrative basket. But now, thanks to the consumerization of IT, the BlackBerry is losing its grip on the enterprise market. So, naturally, RIM is diversifying.
The company today announced BlackBerry Mobile Fusion, a BlackBerry mobile device management (MDM) service that will also manage iPhones, iPads and Android devices.
Mobile Fusion will allow IT admins to control device-specific functions — such as remote lock and wipe, policy enforcement and application delivery — from one Web-based console, RIM said. The service will rely on BlackBerry Enterprise Server (BES) for BlackBerry management, and it will use software acquired from ubitexx to manage Apple and Android devices, according to The Verge. A closed beta program will begin in January, with general availability scheduled for late March, RIM said.
There are other multi-platform MDM vendors out there, but RIM is in a unique position to capitalize, thanks to its history in the enterprise and existing relationships with BES customers. (That’s if Mobile Fusion can manage iOS and Android as well as BES can manage BlackBerry — which, given most vendors’ history managing other vendors’ stuff, is a big “if.”)
The bigger issue, however, is what this news means for RIM’s core business, enterprise smartphones. RIM isn’t explicitly admitting defeat, but the company knows it’s in trouble. In the press release, RIM said it developed Mobile Fusion in response to “an increase in the diversity of mobile devices in use in the enterprise,” which is the nice way of saying “Apple and Google stealing our market share left and right.”
In light of this admission, diversification is the right move for RIM. But given the company’s recent troubles, it may not be enough.