RIM is reaching out to iOS and Android devices, dragging them into the BlackBerry Enterprise Server fold with BlackBerry Mobile Fusion.
Mobile Fusion will sit alongside a BlackBerry Enterprise Server (BES), managing devices running iOS and Android as well as BlackBerry's own PlayBook tablet (once the PlayBook gets a software update next year). So BOFHs will receive a familiar, web-based, interface through which to manage all kinds of mobile device. Fusion won't be out until next year, and we don't know how much it's going to cost, but RIM is now taking applications from companies interested in the closed beta testing.
Actual functionality will vary by platform, depending on what the platform owners will allow RIM to do. On BlackBerry devices, one's BOFH can do just about anything using a BES – from limiting internet access to remotely installing, or removing, applications – but that's going to be more limited on an iPhone, to which Apple holds the master keys. However, Mobile Fusion should provide a useful interface to allow remote wipe and other functions already accessible with Apple's own management tools.
RIM's success has been largely down to its ability to cede control of devices to Enterprise IT departments, as long as all those devices were BlackBerrys. Numerous other players have stepped in to fill the gap in managing devices brought in by staff, or departments which refuse to toe the company line, and RIM's expansion into that field should worry those companies, as despite recent failures the brand still carries a lot of weight.
If Mobile Fusion proves successful, then it will provide RIM with viable business should its own mobile platform continue to decline, but equally important is that it denies potential competitors server space in the Enterprise – from where they could launch an assault on RIM's core revenue source. ®