Yesterday, Blackberry held an event where one of their announcements was a deal with Samsung to help add a deeper layer of security to Samsung/KNOX devices. Given the criticism of KNOX’s security, questions surrounding its integrity aren’t surprising. In my view, it’s a recognition/admission that Samsung needed help in the security arena if they wanted to be viewed as a valid player in more secure enterprise accounts.
I view this deal more as a necessity for Samsung than for Blackberry. Blackberry’s BES 12 operating system already supports Android in general, along with iOS and Windows Phone. But Android at large continues to have a negative opinion held by many IT administrators and since Samsung is hands down the leading Android vendor in the enterprise, this view carries over to Samsung to a degree. This move could help Samsung fill the void in their offerings, assuming Blackberry is successful in growing their software and services accounts of BES 12 over the next year.
While BES 12 is a cross-platform enterprise mobility management product, iOS is still standing in Blackberry’s way. iOS continues to increase its dominance in many of the key accounts where Blackberry’s value adds are relevant. In fact, I have heard from many IT managers that more and more groups inside their enterprise are using or being deployed only iOS devices for their teams. For teams where heightened security is more of a need, this is happening even more frequently. If this trend continues then it raises the question of the need for cross-platform, outside of a very general solution to cover all employees which can come from many different providers.
Blackberry is at least moving in the right direction with BES 12. By bringing Samsung along for the ride, it gives them a partner they can have deeper integration with in the hopes a higher degree of cross-platform security is needed within a specific group or company function.
As both RIM and Samsung pointed out in the release, it is about choice. Ultimately, that is the angle they hope to exploit.