updated 02:21 am EDT, Tue June 25, 2013
Sets up BB10-esque 'platform within a platform' for business users
BlackBerry is now allowing users of iOS and Android devices to sign up for a "trial" of its Secure Work Space app, a program drawn from a feature on its own BlackBerry 10 devices that lets users set up a "partition" for business use that is entirely separated from personal data -- a solution that lets administrators police business material on the phone without having full access or control of the users' personal "side." Built into the app is integrated email, calendar and contacts, along with a secure HTML5 browser and secured Documents To Go version.
The program requires authorization to unlock the 256-bit AES encrypted applets and work data. Business information cannot be copied and pasted outside of the environment, though data from the rest of the OS (such as contacts or calendar entries) can be imported into Secure Work Space. The solution is considered ideal for "Bring Your Own Device" setups where sensitive business data needs to be stored on a device the user owns and has control of. The Secure Work Space app can be extensively managed using the BlackBerry Enterprise Service 10 admin console.
The release of the app is something of a mixed bag for BlackBerry, which has struggled to regain any ground in both the consumer and enterprise markets following the introduction of the iPhone and is steadily losing share (though at present it still has millions of users). The release will undoubtedly raise BlackBerry's profile among business users and may even inspire some sales of BlackBerry hardware if users find the feature to be of high quality, but ironically it also means that users and businesses that wanted to jump ship from BlackBerry's handsets are able to do so more easily.
The company is betting that Secure Work Space will draw server interest and revenue from businesses that aren't already BlackBerry customers, but help keep customers who are already invested in back-end BlackBerry management servers to stay with the firm, while giving the company a jump on enterprise-oriented rivals like Microsoft, Google, Oracle and others that have the ability to create similar business-centric applications.
The software requires users to fill out a form for a trial version, and is not yet available on the iOS App Store of Google Play.