BlackBerry CEO promises to ‘go back to enterprise roots’

As the mobile firm releases a BlackBerry Enterprise Service update, CEO John Chen promises to return to a corporate focus

The CEO of BlackBerry today promised customers his company was “going back to its heritage and roots” to focus on the enterprise.

The recently hired chief, John Chen, wrote an open letter to corporate customers trying to quell fears that the mobile manufacturer was in trouble.

“Our ‘for sale’ sign has been taken down and we are here to stay,” he wrote. “The investments you’ve made in BlackBerry infrastructure and solutions are secure. I will keep the lines of communication open as we navigate through this transition.”

Chen claimed the change in tactic from its biggest investor Fairfax Financial Holdings – going from an all-out bid for the firm to $1bn of investment – represented a “vote of confidence in the future of BlackBerry” and that reports of the firm’s demise had been “greatly exaggerated”.

“I believe in BlackBerry and I’m confident in our future in enterprise, our technology and our ability to adapt to changing market needs,” said Chen.

BES 10.2 launch

The letter comes on the same day BlackBerry launched the update to its BlackBerry Enterprise Services software platform, BES 10.2.

The new version of the mobile management solution – which has been beta-tested by the likes of Morgan Stanley and Boeing – focuses strongly on providing support to all types of mobile devices, including Apple iOS and Google Android phones and tablets, as well as BlackBerry’s own branded hardware.

Computer Weekly asked Jeff Holleran, senior director of enterprise project management at BlackBerry, whether having to push the support of his rivals’ devices was tough, having spent so much time trying to grow adoption its own portfolio of new handsets this year.

“Not at all,” he replied. “Our objective is to best meet our enterprise customers’ mobility needs and extend the gold-standard security and manageability credentials that customers associate with BlackBerry to iOS and Android devices is part of this.

“We’ve continued to extend our technology and security to other platforms, so that we can deliver a great end-user experience without compromising on security. Security is built into everything we do and we’ve been doing it longer and better than anyone else in the industry.”

There are no added benefits for BES 10.2 users on BlackBerry devices as, while the company believes its smartphones offer “the only true end-to-end security solution encompassing the device, management server and network level”,  it wants to offer a full cross-platform solution which offers the same benefits regardless of device or platform type.

Holleran was not able to give figures for overall BES deployments and whether they have declined during BlackBerry’s well-publicised troubles, but he said since the launch of BES 10 in early 2013, there had been nearly 30,000 installations for either test or commercial purposes, including over a third of FTSE 100 companies.

“With BES 10.2, our message to customers is clear,” he concluded. “For those with requirements to manage different types of devices they can do so, with us through a simple transition from their existing BlackBerry infrastructure to a full cross-platform solution, without the need for a costly ‘rip and replace’.”

“What’s more, customers can continue to benefit from the unrivalled security and manageability credentials that have helped to make us the mobile enterprise leader for over a decade.”

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