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Device operating systems

RIM Hosts a Bring-Your-Own Bash

3:00 PM -- BlackBerry 's Mobile Fusion service, announced in November, went live Tuesday, letting enterprises manage employee BlackBerrys, Androids and iPhones from a single Web interface. (See RIM Plays Nice in the Enterprise.)

The mobile device management service is RIM's implicit recognition that BlackBerrys are no longer king in the enterprise. The company got left behind in the bring-your-own-device wave, something CEO Thorsten Heins admitted on its fourth-quarter earnings call. (See RIM Open to Licensing BlackBerry 10 and RIM Chairman Resigns After Bleak Q4.)

Through Mobile Fusion, enterprises can activate and configure RIM, Android and Apple Inc. (Nasdaq: AAPL) smartphones and tablets over the air, set up corporate functions, mass deploy apps and notifications, and manage devices, all with its IT policies and security in place. The service is a free download, but client access licenses start at $99 per user or $4 per month, billed annually. RIM's offering a free 60-day trial to jumpstart adoption.

Heins identified Mobile Fusion, along with "new integrated services offerings," as one of RIM's key opportunities as it regains its footing in mobile. The beleaguered handset maker is realizing that as much as it wants to be the life of the party, it just couldn't pull off a mullet. (See RIM Reports Q4, Loses Execs and Can RIM Get Its Enterprise Groove Back?)

Instead, it's focusing on its strengths in the enterprise and security and welcoming its rivals to the party. It's the right move, but only a small step. RIM will need much-improved hardware to match its services strategy, or it will soon see only Androids and iPhones on the dashboard of its Mobile Fusion service. (See RIM Scrambles to Launch Better LTE Devices.)

— Sarah Reedy, Senior Reporter, Light Reading Mobile

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