BlackBerry to let rival systems manage its devices

TORONTO - BlackBerry Ltd said on Tuesday it planned to allow rival mobile device management players to manage its BlackBerry 10 devices on the internal networks of their clients, marking a slight shift in strategy for the embattled technology company.

Waterloo, Ontario-based BlackBerry said VMware Inc subsidiary AirWatch, Citrix Systems Inc and International Business Machines Corp would be the first companies to manage its new line of smartphones on their own mobile device management systems.

The move by BlackBerry is in effect a tacit nod that some large corporate clients are using or are switching to rival MDM players to manage devices on their internal corporate networks. Allowing these companies to manage BlackBerry 10 devices ensures that their customers still give employees the freedom to choose BlackBerry's new devices as their smartphones.

BlackBerry, a pioneer in the smartphone industry, is trying to engineer a turnaround after its new line of devices have failed to win back market share ceded to rivals such as Apple Inc's iPhone and Samsung Electronics Co's line of Galaxy devices powered by Google's Android operating system.

Under new Chief Executive John Chen, BlackBerry is trying to transform itself into a more services-oriented company, with an emphasis on MDM.

John Sims, who heads BlackBerry's enterprise division, said he did not expect the move to hurt the company's own MDM business. "We have organised the company into four divisions, and we have indicated that each of the divisions needs to be successful in its own right" said Sims. "Today's announcement is an example of how the devices business needs to pursue its success as an entity by opening the BlackBerry 10 platform to other MDM players. "We believe MDM as a capability is just table stakes these days, and really, the market has moved beyond that into how do you manage applications, manage data in transit on devices," he said.

BlackBerry is better positioned than its rivals to offer such services, he added.