BlackBerry teams with Samsung to increase security on Android

Thanks to a new partnership between the two companies, BlackBerry (NASDAQ:BBRY) said it will work to enhance security on Samsung Electronics' Android phones, and Samsung said it will resell the BlackBerry Enterprise Service 12 platform to its customers. The teaming is just one of several that BlackBerry unveiled as part of the rollout of its new BES12 product, which the company hopes will form the foundation of its comeback into the enterprise market.

Starting early next year, enterprise customers that buy Samsung Galaxy smartphones and tablets embedded with Samsung's Knox software for Android can add BlackBerry's BES12 end-to-end security and encryption solution on top of it.

Samsung will resell BES12 to joint customers and BlackBerry will offer Knox support as part of the Gold family of its own BES12 subscriptions. The companies said pricing will be announced later.

The companies said the solution will include enhancements to the core Android platform that reduce security threats from flawed applications. Additionally, the solution will let users separate business and personal data, protect the device down to the kernel level and allow more flexible enterprise deployments.

The push by BlackBerry to partner with device makers, distributors and carriers in the rollout of its new BES12 is part of BlackBerry CEO John Chen's plan to refocus the company on the enterprise market, where the company has seen its market share erode significantly during the past few years.

"We have slipped a little bit in the past," Chen said in a presentation in San Francisco on Thursday, according to Re/code. "We're going to recapture and grow on that."

BlackBerry indicated its deal with Samsung is a long-term commitment. "To make this Samsung partnership happen, we went to the highest levels of both companies, so this is a very serious relationship," said John Sims, BlackBerry's president of global enterprise services, calling the deal "the tip of the iceberg."

Samsung is aiming to overcome the stigma that Android has earned as an unsecure mobile platform. "The work we're doing with BlackBerry goes beyond just bringing our solutions together for customers," said Greg Wade, senior vice president of Samsung's Knox Business Group. "This strategic partnership is grounded in our mutual goals [of] being the most secure in mobility. Our respective leadership positions in enterprise mobility and consumers devices are a perfect match to offer customers that need to be equally productive and secure."

Indeed, Google itself is seeking to more narrowly target the enterprise market with its latest Android software update, 5.0 Lollipop, which is starting now to roll out to Android phones. The software 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. Additionally, devices running the new software are fully encrypted when they first boot up, using a unique key that never leaves the device.

Meanwhile, BlackBerry is partnering with Brightstar Corp. to be a distributor of BES12. Verizon Wireless (NYSE: VZ), Vodafone, Rogers, SingTel, Orange and many more mobile operators around the world have agreed to resell BES12, BlackBerry added.

And BlackBerry is adding new platforms to its BES12 product. For the first time, in addition to Google's (NASDAQ:GOOG) Android and Apple's (NASDAQ:AAPL) iOS devices, BlackBerry said BES12 will also support Microsoft's (NASDAQ:MSFT) Windows Phone.

"I want the CIO to take away that this is truly cross platform, it's not an afterthought," Mr. Chen the Wall Street Journal.

To help spur adoption of BES12, BlackBerry launched an "EZ Pass" program this spring, which lets customers trade in their licenses and move from BES and other mobile device management platforms to BES10. For existing BlackBerry customers, the EZ Pass program matches any active existing on-premise BES license and any active license customers may have from other MDM vendors, such as AirWatch or MobileIron, with a corresponding Silver BES10 perpetual license, though terms and conditions apply. Customers also receive free Advantage level technical support with their new license.

For more:
- see this BlackBerry partnerships release
- see this Blackberry/Samsung release
- see this BlackBerry/Brightstar release
- see this Reuters article
- see this Re/code article
- see this WSJ article (sub. req.)
- see this separate WSJ article (sub. req.)
- see this Bloomberg article

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