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11/30/2011
11:23 AM
Art Wittmann
Art Wittmann
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RIM BlackBerry Fusion: A Swing And A Miss?

RIM's new MDM platform will handle BlackBerry, Android, and Apple iOS devices--but it's arriving too late for some IT shops.

As Research In Motion tries to stanch the flow of customers away from its products, its latest offering, BlackBerry Fusion Mobile, builds on the company's strongest asset: BlackBerry Enterprise Server. Fusion, now in beta, will let IT admins apply some of the same features they use to manage and control BlackBerry devices to Android and iOS devices, using technology RIM acquired when it bought Ubitexx earlier this year.

Problem is, many organizations have already chosen a product to manage other mobile device platforms, or at least they've resigned themselves to the notion of using more than one product. "Had this come out 12 months ago, we'd have been excited about it," says Jonathan Feldman, director of IT services for a midsized city in North Carolina, "but we've already accepted that we soon won't be a RIM shop. This is too little too late for us."

Of course, there are still plenty of RIM loyalists. But a big challenge for enterprise IT device managers, and therefore for RIM, will be whether to maintain different lock-down policies for different devices.

While RIM offers lots of profile templates for various user and group roles, many shops forego nuance and lock down devices as tightly as they can across the board. For example, they force all Web traffic through the company's filters, so that the policies set for surfing within the company's walls are also observed on company-managed devices. While those policies, along with under-powered hardware, have translated into a nearly unusable Web experience on most BlackBerrys, end users had no idea whether to blame the design of the phone or browser software, or the company's policies.

But that won't be the case for existing iPhone or Android users who let their company manage their personal device. If they see a substantial change in performance, or if they're blocked from reaching sites deemed by the company to be inappropriate, they'll make their displeasure known.

RIM's answer for its own devices is BlackBerry Balance, which creates a secure environment for work-related functions and allows more-unfettered access for personal use. The Balance feature, however, won't be available for Android and iOS devices; it's available only on BlackBerry 7 phones and PlayBook tablets. When pressed, RIM's VP of product management and marketing, Alan Panezic, wasn't able to say whether Balance would ever be brought to non-BlackBerry devices.

Mobile device management vendors are tackling this issue. Startup Enterproid, as just one example, has developed such a capability for Android phones. AT&T offers the product as a cloud-based service called Toggle.

So it appears that while Fusion will be the platform for managing all devices--including Windows phones and tablets, if the demand is there, Panezic says--devices will in no way be equal when it comes to management features.

Panezic was also cagey when pressed on licensing and pricing, saying only that the RIM product would be competitive with other MDM products. Given that RIM appears to be behind others in its capability to manage Android and iOS devices, about the only ones likely to be happy with the RIM offerings are the IT admins familiar with the BES management interface.

Art Wittmann is director of InformationWeek Reports, a portfolio of decision-support tools and research reports. You can write to him at awittmann@techweb.com.

To find out more about Art Wittmann, please visit his page.

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Guest
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Guest,
User Rank: Apprentice
12/2/2011 | 7:39:12 AM
re: RIM BlackBerry Fusion: A Swing And A Miss?
I work for a company that only allows RIM, but it isn't because we believe RIM is the best smartphone on the market. It is because, presumably like the military, there has been a large investment in BES and skills around RIM. Large organizations can't turn on a dime like individuals, but that doesn't mean it is a vote for RIM as the best smartphone on the market at this time. It means it was a vote for RIM as the best smartphone on the market 5-10 years ago.
Guest
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Guest,
User Rank: Apprentice
12/2/2011 | 7:35:00 AM
re: RIM BlackBerry Fusion: A Swing And A Miss?
Probably RIM customers.
Vocio
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Vocio,
User Rank: Apprentice
12/1/2011 | 5:03:09 AM
re: RIM BlackBerry Fusion: A Swing And A Miss?
Doing beta's and waiting to late March seems to signal the Ubitexx integration was more difficult than anticipated. It will be almost a year from when they purchased the company.

MDM isn't cheap. Self-funding it makes it a more attractive value proposition, many companies should look to wireless expense management to lower costs for the BYOD's. As a mobility consultant I find many companies moving the expense out of the IT cost center, but then it gets hidden in expense reports, most times at a significantly higher cost than the corporate paid plan.
ArtWittmann
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ArtWittmann,
User Rank: Apprentice
12/1/2011 | 3:34:31 AM
re: RIM BlackBerry Fusion: A Swing And A Miss?
OK.... http://blogs.wsj.com/deals/201...

and http://news.yahoo.com/android-...

and http://www.bizjournals.com/buf...

There's my five minutes of research. Where's yours?
JBO000
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JBO000,
User Rank: Apprentice
12/1/2011 | 2:23:46 AM
re: RIM BlackBerry Fusion: A Swing And A Miss?
re: As Research In Motion tries to stanch the flow of customers away from its products

The first statement is outragously inept, the number of users has grown astronomically the last 3 years ! This RIM bashing is wearing thin, gimme a break and do 5 minutes of research before writng an article please, no need to sex it up with factually incorrect statement, just give me useful info...
ArtWittmann
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ArtWittmann,
User Rank: Apprentice
11/30/2011 | 8:00:57 PM
re: RIM BlackBerry Fusion: A Swing And A Miss?
In terms of investing, I only own mutual funds, and couldn't tell you what's in them. I have no ax to grind with RIM - in fact the BlackBerry Curve is the phone I use on a daily basis. I just don't think Fusion is going to be the thing to turn the company around, nor do I think it's necessarily going to be the way most companies will manage mobile devices.

In interviews with RIM executives it's clear that they they see one path for RIM devices, another for Android and iOS and haven't thought much (or at least won't say much) about Windows mobile devices. That's not going to make them a powerhouse in MDM, particularly when you have other vendors who are doing their best to allow IT organizations to apply uniform policies across devices.

That doesn't mean I don't think that RIM will still do well in certain applications (ones requiring high security as mentioned by another commenter are a good example), but overall, I'd be surprised to see wide scale adoption of Fusion. RIM just doesn't present itself as taking seriously the issue of integrating other platforms, at least not in the way that other MDM vendors do.
RobPreston
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RobPreston,
User Rank: Author
11/30/2011 | 6:27:59 PM
re: RIM BlackBerry Fusion: A Swing And A Miss?
InformationWeek editors, as a matter of policy, own stock in no companies we report on. And this is hardly a "hate RIM" opinion column.
RH000
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RH000,
User Rank: Apprentice
11/30/2011 | 6:02:26 PM
re: RIM BlackBerry Fusion: A Swing And A Miss?
Too funny why don't you ask the US military the same question they only allow black berry phones, heck the president has one, plus I just watched Black Berry stocks go up as a result of the fusion move.
Guest
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Guest,
User Rank: Apprentice
11/30/2011 | 5:21:06 PM
re: RIM BlackBerry Fusion: A Swing And A Miss?
I'd like for InformationWeek to disclose any Wall Street interests.. who is paying for these hate RIM articles?
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