RIM's BlackBerry 10 enterprise service goes live, but pricing questions remain

Research In Motion (NASDAQ:RIMM) said its new BlackBerry Enterprise Service 10 platform is now available for enterprise and government customers to download, one of the final preludes to the company's launch of BlackBerry 10 next week. RIM's BES 10 platform not only will support device management and security for BlackBerry smartphones and tablets but also for gadgets running Apple's (NASDAQ:AAPL) iOS and Google's (NASDAQ:GOOG) Android.

RIM noted that BES 10 supports mobile device management, mobile application management and secure mobile connectivity. The platform will also support the ability to have dual personas for work and personal use on BlackBerry devices through RIM's BlackBerry Balance software. BES 10 is RIM's latest attempt to get a better handle on the bring-your-own-device trend, which has eroded RIM's market share. BES 10 supports both corporate-owned and BYOD device deployments.

RIM detailed the features of BES 10 in a new video:

Getting RIM's corporate and government customers to upgrade to BB10 will be crucial for RIM's success this year, and the deployment of BES 10 will be a major part of that. "We definitely anticipate that (enterprise) customers will be making the switch to BB10 rapidly," Peter Devenyi, RIM's senior head of enterprise software, told Reuters.

What remains unclear at this point, however, is how RIM's service business will change with the introduction of BlackBerry 10 and BES 10. Last month, when it announced its fiscal third-quarter results, RIM said it would take a tiered approach to charging for its BlackBerry services--such as mobile device management, security and other services that use its proprietary messaging network--when it launches BlackBerry 10.

Corporate and government customers have historically paid fees for RIM's BES software through carriers so that they can manage their BlackBerry devices and get access to RIM's secure data network. According to the New York Times, Jeff Holleran, RIM's senior director of enterprise product management, said RIM has decided to drop license fees for its server software. However, enterprise customers will continue to pay a fee for every device they connect to RIM's servers.

According to the NYT, Holleran refused to detail RIM's new pricing structure for its enterprise and corporate customers. 

In December, RIM CEO Thorsten Heins declined to provide specifics on the new pricing system, and refused to speculate on how the change will affect RIM's BlackBerry service revenues in the future.

"It is segment of service packages that we are going to offer. We have to realize that some of the smaller enterprises are actually good enough with just some email exchange product or connectivity to their mail server or their exchange server that they are running," Heins explained during the company's quarterly conference call, according to a Morningstar transcript. "So, there is very little value-add in this. And then as we invest into BES 10, you think about cross-platform over device management, you think about security that you can offer and you think about the Platinum package that is basically the all-in package that I would describe today as being the full BlackBerry package as you know it today, right all-in."

For more:
- see this release
- see this RIM blog post
- see this Reuters article
- see this NYT article

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