By Euan Rocha
TORONTO (Reuters) - Research In Motion has released a new system to allow its biggest customers to use its new line of BlackBerry 10 smartphones on their own networks, paving the way for the January 30 launch of the make-or-break devices.
RIM said on Wednesday that the new device management system - BlackBerry Enterprise Service 10 (BES 10)- is now available to government agencies and corporate clients. The system lets clients support both corporate-and employee-owned devices and provides a single platform to manage BlackBerry, Android and Apple's iOS-based devices.
The Blackberry smartphones, powered by an all-new operating system, are pivotal to the future of RIM, which has ceded market share to Apple Inc's iPhone and devices powered by Google Inc's market-leading Android operating system.
RIM is now betting that its re-engineered new line of touch-screen and keyboard devices will help it win back consumers and market share.
The fate of the new smartphones could well be determined by the reception from RIM's major clients, many of whom have, so far, only stuck by RIM because of the strong security features that BlackBerry devices offer.
The new mobile device management system builds on RIM's core strength of security, but it offers a range of innovations that allow it to cater to the latest needs of IT departments, said Peter Devenyi, RIM's senior head of enterprise software.
"We definitely anticipate that (enterprise) customers will be making the switch to BB10 rapidly," said Devenyi, describing the feedback from government agencies and the business community as remarkably positive.
Both BES 10 and the new Blackberry 10 devices have already secured Federal Information Processing Standard (FIPS) 140-2 certification, a coveted U.S. government security clearance that will allow government agencies to deploy the new devices as soon as they are launched.
Waterloo, Ontario-based RIM said BES 10 also supports RIM's BlackBerry Balance technology, which allows IT departments and users to separate work applications and data on BlackBerry devices from personal content.
"BlackBerry Balance is a truly differentiated feature that's built into the core of BlackBerry 10," said Devenyi. "This opens up the world of personally owned devices in a way that make IT departments and corporations comfortable, because they can truly manage the corporate side of the device, while not inhibiting the use of the device by the individual who actually owns it."
This means private pictures, music and emails are safe, even if a company decides to wipe corporate content from a device.
Scotiabank analyst Gus Papageorgiou believes that this one feature alone is likely to be a big factor in swaying enterprise customers to upgrade to RIM's BlackBerry 10 devices.
"We believe BlackBerry Balance is the key feature which will drive enterprise demand," Papageorgiou said in a note to clients on Tuesday. "The BB10's ability to segment between corporate and personal settings will be a hit with enterprise IT departments and users alike."
RIM said its new platform will also offer a new corporate app store for BlackBerry 10 devices, allowing organizations to manage the deployment of in-house applications on employee-owned devices.
"We've been testing BlackBerry 10 and BlackBerry Enterprise Service 10 in our environment and we're pleased with the manageability, security and reliability," said Peter Lesser, the head of global technology at Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP, in a statement issued by RIM.
(Reporting by Euan Rocha; Editing by Janet Guttsman and Andrew Hay)