EVER-OPTIMISTIC BLACKBERRY has been looking to its cross-platform future with a range of announcements at Mobile World Congress (MWC) in Barcelona.
The company unveiled a new cloud service for enterprise mobility management to be known as BES12 Cloud, which will be offered across iOS, Android and Windows Phone as well as BlackBerry 10 handsets.
The service will be backed by Android for Work and Samsung's Knox encrypted enterprise environment as part of BlackBerry's ongoing partnership with Samsung.
BES12 on-premise has also been notched up to version 12.1, including security enhancements, wired activation of deployments, restriction of certain versions of the BlackBerry OS, and message classification rules.
Samsung's Knox has been integrated as the first stage in a partnership offering mobile device management and mobile application management for Samsung Android devices, which will lead to the full Knox workspace with BlackBerry Secure Connectivity.
Additionally, there are enhancements for administrators without credentials and support for new IT policy controls.
BlackBerry Meetings has added a plug-in for Outlook which allows users to schedule seamless online meetings direct from the Outlook desktop.
BBM Protected, the enterprise-grade encrypted version of BBM Messenger, now adds protection for standard BBM users. When a BBM Protected user initiates a conversation with a standard BBM user, both get enterprise-grade protection.
BlackBerry also launched three new suites under the Blackberry Experience Suite banner.
BlackBerry Productivity Suite is a one-stop shop for editing and sharing documents, and monitoring personal, work and social communications in one place.
Blackberry Communication and Collaboration Suite is a real-time collaboration centre with WiFi calls, video chat and integrated calendar.
BlackBerry Security Suite offers secure encryption and privacy across devices, with containers to split work from home emails.
The BlackBerry Experience Suite launches later in the year.
No new hardware has been unveiled, making it feel like BlackBerry's last roll of the dice. The firm remains committed to the BlackBerry 10 and Classic products, but now appears ready to take on the likes of Google Drive and Office 365 in the productivity stakes using its secure credentials.
Will it work? It might be that this particular fruit has crashed the party too late, again, but the company's recognition that it's time to embrace other operating systems has come not a moment too soon. µ
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