updated 09:10 am EDT, Tue April 3, 2012
BlackBerry Fusion ships in change of strategy
RIM started its Tuesday by formally releasing BlackBerry Mobile Fusion. The remote administration tool is RIM's first truly cross-platform tool and both provides the expected oversight of BlackBerry phones and PlayBooks as well as Android and iOS devices. While not as in-depth as the BlackBerry support, it can manage app loadouts, check their location if lost, remotely wipe or lock devices, and determine what access users have to network assets like VPNs.
The approach uses a single outgoing, 256-bit AES encrypted connection and is based around a web interface to make it accessible from most platforms. BlackBerry users get the advantage of Balance support, which keeps BlackBerry 7 devices' personal and work content separate. Its overall architecture stems from BlackBerry Enterprise Server 5.
Downloading Mobile Fusion itself is free, with costs varying depending on the number of people under its supervision. Companies can pay either $99 up front per person or subscribe at $48 per person per year. A 60-day trial is available to test before committing to a full deployment.
While publicly known for several months, Mobile Fusion's release still comes as a watershed moment for RIM, which until now had been reluctant to give any support to other mobile platforms. During a conference call discussing RIM's poor results, however, new CEO Thorsten Heins acknowledged that some of RIM's key enterprise advantages were no longer unique and that more needed to be done to stand out. He added that RIM had missed the BYOD (bring your own device) trend and had watched as Android and primarily iPhone devices started replacing BlackBerrys at work.