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RIM Balances Enterprise Ambitions With BYOD

SAN DIEGO -- CTIA MobileCON 2012 -- BlackBerry maintains that it builds the best, most robust and secure option for the enterprise, but it also knows it's far from the only one anymore.

RIM Chief Information Officer Robin Bienfait addressed CTIA attendees Wednesday morning, urging them to adapt and plan ahead for the surge in mobility in the workforce. It was an ironic message given RIM's laborious and oft-delayed process of launching BlackBerry 10. But, Bienfait assured the audience that the new operating system would be rebuilt from the ground up with the enterprise in mind. (See RIM Posts $235M Net Loss as Sales Slip, RIM Delays BlackBerry 10 Phones 'Til 2013 and Can RIM Get Its Enterprise Groove Back?)

At the same time, she admitted that Android and iOS are becoming pervasive forces in the enterprise as more companies allow employees to bring their own devices. She said that RIM plans to support both iOS and Android devices with its security and BlackBerry Mobile Fusion mobile device management (MDM) platform. (See RIM Hosts a Bring-Your-Own Bash and RIM Plays Nice in the Enterprise.)

"By supporting our competitors in the enterprise, we're focused on being a partner to our customers," she told the audience. "Our big picture commitment to our customers exceeds our commitment to a brand."

Bienfait cited some stats, including that 80 million people worldwide and more 90 percent of Fortune 500 companies are BlackBerry customers, to show BlackBerry still has a leg to stand on. But the company is clearly treading water until BlackBerry 10 smartphones are released, which she said will happen "in a few short months."

Showing off a demo of the OS on the DevAlphaB prototype that RIM gave developers last month, RIM's Jeff Gadway highlighted BlackBerry Balance, RIM's software that lets users separate the work and personal functions on their phone. Gadway also talked up the new predictive text keyboard that he said will convince even diehard qwerty users to switch to touch screen. (See RIM Wants a Bronze for BlackBerry.)

"We built BlackBerry 10 to expand our leadership in communications, NFC, social media and collaboration in the enterprise," Bienfait added.

— Sarah Reedy, Senior Reporter, Light Reading Mobile

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