BlackBerry is opening up its BlackBerry 10 operating system to other mobile device management (MDM) firms, allowing its rivals to manage devices running on the BlackBerry platform on their clients' internal networks.
The move is BlackBerry's acknowledgment of the growing trend by corporate clients to turn to third-party providers for the management of their mobile devices, especially since companies are now growing less strict about the use of various devices in the workplace.
"Offering the end-to-end secure solutions valued by our customers in government and other regulated industries remains central to our strategy; however BlackBerry understands the opportunity and importance of opening our BlackBerry 10 software. This is a natural next step in our enterprise strategy as we seek to provide our customers with maximum choice in how they will meet the full array of employee mobility needs," said BlackBerry vice president of devices and emerging solutions Ron Louks in a statement.
BlackBerry has seen a number of clients switch to other companies offering similar management services, particularly due to BlackBerry's expensive prices. In Canada, Bank of Montreal and Royal Bank have transferred a portion of their MDM systems to a competitor, while more clients have cut ties with BlackBerry in the U.S. These include drug company Pfizer and the U.S. Defense Department, which is no longer using BlackBerry exclusively for its smartphone management system in case the company shuts down.
BlackBerry says AirWatch, Citrix, IBM and SAP are the first four companies who expressed their interest in working with the company.
John Sims, chief of BlackBerry's global enterprises services, thinks the strategy shift will not have a negative impact on BlackBerry's own MDM business.
"MDM has become table stakes; it is no longer a meaningful point of differentiation," Sims said in a blog post. "The differentiation for BlackBerry in the future will be our ability to enable secure, productive mobile communications, collaboration and other applications."
BlackBerry will also expand its platform, which currently supports iOS and Android, to support Windows-based smartphones later in the year, Sims said.
Once a leader in the smartphone industry, the embattled technology company is now attempting to remake itself after it failed to regain the massive market share captured by the likes of Apple's iPhones, Android-based smartphones by Samsung and other manufacturers.
In November last year, BlackBerry took onboard John Chen, its new chief executive given the difficult task of turning the company around. Since his installation, Chen has cut costs through layoffs and finding new ways to capitalize on the BlackBerry technology. Chen's strategy also involves a return to BlackBerry's root focus on business users.