Research In Motion, the struggling BlackBerry maker, on Tuesday released an expanded version of
its server software that supports not only its own phones but also those made by its competitors.
The software, BlackBerry Mobile Fusion, is designed for use by corporate I.T. departments.
RIM said the new product would accommodate the growing number of businesses that are allowing
employees to use their own mobile devices in the workplace.
“For businesses and government, managing a mix of mobile devices on any scale is chaotic,”
said Alan Panezic, a RIM vice president, in a statement. “Organizations face pressure to allow
employees to bring their own devices into the workplace, and they are looking to RIM as the
global leader in the enterprise mobility space to solve that problem.”
There have always been two fundamental parts to RIM’s business: the BlackBerry phones,
and the software that businesses use to manage them for employees. RIM’s decision to support
iPhones and Android phones is a sign that the company knows the BlackBerry is losing its battle
in the business market, said Jan Dawson, a mobile analyst at Ovum, the research company.
“Fusion is a recognition that RIM is losing share in enterprise devices to iOS and Android,
and that to remain relevant its server solution needs to support those platforms too,”
Mr. Dawson said. “It does show that RIM’s not standing still, and that it’s trying to respond to
the trends it sees in the market.”
Mr. Dawson said that Fusion should help RIM increase its revenues from server software,
but that the company would continue to struggle to expand sales of BlackBerry devices.
And for RIM, revenues from server software are small compared to sales of BlackBerry smartphones.
Fusion costs businesses $99 per device, or $4 a month, whereas RIM’s average selling price for a
BlackBerry is roughly $300, Mr. Dawson said.
RIM last week reported a fourth-quarter loss of $125 million and said it would consider selling or
licensing parts of its business. Thorsten Heins, the company’s new chief executive, is hoping that
RIM will be able to reverse its decline with the introduction of BlackBerry phones running its
new operating system, BlackBerry 10, later this year.