BlackBerry's Chen knocks Android's beefed up security features

BlackBerry (NASDAQ:BBRY) CEO John Chen said that Google's (NASDAQ: GOOG) recently unveiled efforts to make its Android mobile platform more secure are essentially weak attempts to duplicate BlackBerry's existing security features for the enterprise market.

In a company blog post, Chen said he was pleased with Google's efforts. "I'm delighted by this first step. The need to improve Android's security was clear," he wrote. "And it validates what we at BlackBerry have been saying all along about the potential perils that businesses face in the BYOD era."

However,  he wrote that BlackBerry's entire infrastructure "is constructed upon a multi-decade bedrock of mobile management and security expertise."

As part of a bevy of Android-related announcements Google made last week at its I/O developer conference, the company said that its newest major software update, Android L, will include enhancements that will allow the company to more effectively target the enterprise market. Specifically, the company announced a new service that can separate corporate applications and personal applications on one Android device, thereby improving the security of corporate data and allowing users to only carry one phone for personal and work activities. Google also said that Samsung Electronics has integrated much of its Knox mobile enterprise technology into Android, and that Google will initiate a "certified Android For Work" program.

Chen said Knox helps "shore up" Android's gaps, but he said it's just a start.

"But Knox hasn't been widely adopted--fewer than 2 million Samsung phones are actually running Knox today," he wrote. "Meanwhile, tens of millions of BlackBerry devices are trusted every day by Fortune 1000 firms worldwide. Our BES software dominates the enterprise mobility management (EMM) space, with more business customers than our top three competitors combined."

However, BlackBerry's overall market share is miniscule these days. The company had 0.5 percent of the global smartphone market in the first quarter, according to research firm IDC.

Earlier this year, BlackBerry announced BlackBerry Enterprise Service 12, which will come out before the end of the year, and that in addition to Android and Apple's (NASDAQ:AAPL) iOS devices, BES 12 will also support Microsoft's (NASDAQ:MSFT) Windows Phone. The BES 12 platform will offer backward and future compatibility, unifying BES 10 and BES 5 on to one platform.

BlackBerry is also simplifying its BES pricing and licensing structure. The company's Silver tier of service includes full device, application, email and security management for BlackBerry, iOS and Android devices, including BlackBerry Balance, which separates personal and work data on BlackBerry 10 smartphones. The Gold tier adds BlackBerry's Secure Work Space containerization solution for iOS and Android, and advanced BlackBerry 10 management and security features for security-focused customers in the government, financial services and healthcare industries. Customers can get an annual subscription or a perpetual license. In the case of subscription, Silver service is $19 per user per year and Gold is $60 per user per year.

For more:
- see this BlackBerry blog post
- see this InformationWeek article

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