TORONTO -- BlackBerry plans to introduce a new tool for business and government customers to manage mobile devices on their networks, part of a drive by the one-time smartphone pioneer to focus on its profitable enterprise or services business.
The company said Tuesday it would launch BlackBerry Enterprise Service 12, or BES12, to unify its existing platforms and provide clients with increased flexibility and security.
Following a decline in popularity of its once iconic devices, BlackBerry (BBRY) is striving to reinvent itself under new chief executive John Chen.
It hopes that focusing on its enterprise business, which has long been a core strength, will help revive its fortunes, as its new line of BlackBerry 10 devices have failed to win back market share from iPhone and Android devices.
BlackBerry said BES12, which is to be launched by the end of 2014, will unify the existing BES10 and BES5 platforms that its clients currently use to manage mobile devices on their internal corporate and government networks.
While BES5 manages BlackBerry's older generation of devices, %VIRTUAL-article-sponsoredlinks%its BES10 offering allows clients to manage its new generation of devices powered by its BlackBerry 10 operating system, along with devices that run on Apple's (AAPL) iOS operating system and Google's (GOOG) market-leading Android operating system.
"With both BES5 and BES10 we have mobile device management platforms, but the breadth of functionality we provided on those was relatively narrow," said John Sims, the head of BlackBerry's enterprise business in an interview.
"We wanted to expand the platform and BES12 is positioned as the next step on that axis. We will be able to provide seamless enterprise mobility management to the whole family of BlackBerry devices, as well as much stronger capabilities in the cross platform space," said Sims, noting that BES12 will allow those using iOS and Android devices on corporate networks to enjoy a much more seamless user experience.
BlackBerry is counting heavily on the success of its mobile device management offering as it charts a new course under the leadership of recently appointed Chen, who is keen to rebuild the company as more of a niche player focused on the so-called enterprise market of large corporate and government clients.
In December, BlackBerry said the number of enterprise clients that had installed or were testing its BES10 offering had risen to 30,000 from roughly 25,000 in the summer.
BBM For Enterprise
BlackBerry also said it planned to launch BBM Protected that would allow enterprise clients in regulated industries such as the financial sector to use its messaging application BlackBerry Messenger, or BBM, for corporate messaging purposes.
The service will allow employees of an organization to chat with their colleagues under a level of enhanced security, while remaining free to message their BBM contacts outside of the organization easily and in privacy.
BBM Protected, which is launching this summer, will be part of a broader suite of enterprise-focused BBM services and these will be offered to enterprise customers that pay a monthly per-user fee, BlackBerry said in a separate statement on Tuesday.
BBM was a pioneering mobile-messaging service, but its user base has failed to keep pace with that of WhatsApp and other more recent entrants, in part because BlackBerry had long refused to open the service to users on other platforms.
Late last year, the Waterloo, Ontario-based company finally opened the messaging platform to users of iPhones and Android devices, and the number of the service's active users has grown to more than 80 million.
BlackBerry announced Monday it was also going to make the tool available to Microsoft's (MSFT) Windows Phone and its upcoming Nokia X platforms in the coming months.
14 Money Mistakes to Avoid in 2014
Battered BlackBerry Unveils Plans for New Phones, Services
Interest rates are low, but that's no excuse to accept 0.01 percent interest rates on your savings. Just a little shopping can find you many FDIC-insured savings accounts paying as much as 1 percent in interest, usually with no fees and easy availability to your money through electronic funds transfers. Compared to the near-zero rates that uninsured money-market mutual funds and other alternatives pay, high-interest savings accounts are a much safer way to save.
Banks still try to get customers to pay more for less, with one recent threat to charge fees for basic deposit accounts if the Federal Reserve cuts interest rates further. But many online banks not only offer fee-free options on their checking and savings accounts but also pay interest, and many have extensive fee-free ATM networks or reimbursement arrangements. If your bank follows through on threats to raise fees, taking your business elsewhere is your best move.
Bankrate reports that the average credit card charges around 16 percent in interest. That's a guaranteed money-maker for the banks that issue cards, but a big loser for those who carry balances on their cards. With many cards offering promotional interest rates as low as 0 percent, using them to get rid of high-interest cards is a no-brainer move and can help you pay your debt down faster.
Mistakes on your credit history can keep you from getting a loan that you want to buy your next home or car, but they can also have consequences you'd never imagine. Increasingly, insurance companies, apartment rental agents, and even prospective employers order copies of your credit report to see if you're financially responsible. Be sure to take advantage of your free credit check at the government's annualcreditreport.com website to make sure the three big credit-rating agencies have everything right before mistakes come back to bite you.
Payday loans have gotten more tightly regulated recently, but banks and other financial institutions still offer ways to let you get quicker access at your cash -- for a hefty fee. Resorting to short-term money fixes can land you in even more problematic situations down the road, because those solutions often create debt spirals from which it's hard to emerge unscathed. Set up an emergency fund instead and be prepared in advance for the money woes that life throws your way.
Interest rates have risen during the last half of 2013, with a typical 30-year mortgage carrying a 4.5 percent interest rate. But many homeowners still carry higher-interest mortgages from before the financial crisis. Now that home prices have risen, you might be able to refinance for the first time, and many homeowners have used lower rates to cut hundreds from their mortgage payment or shift to a shorter-term 15-year mortgage to pay off their debt faster.
Too many people never update their insurance coverage to deal with changes in their coverage needs, whether it comes from changes in family status for life insurance, health conditions for health-care or long-term care insurance, or even what types of property you own for homeowners' insurance. Don't wait for disaster to strike; check with your insurer or agent to see if your current coverage meets your needs.
In the past, investors had to pay hundreds or even thousands of dollars just to make a simple stock purchase. Now, though, the rise of discount brokers, low-fee index funds and exchange-traded funds, and freely available investment news and advice have made it silly to spend large amounts to get access to the financial markets. If you're still paying your broker too much to invest, look into alternatives that can help you avoid cutting serious money out of your retirement nest egg.
Everyone likes a tax break, and one of the best ones for you to use involves making contributions to a tax-favored retirement account. By putting money in an IRA or 401(k), you can reduce your current taxable income and save on your taxes while also preparing for the future. With 401(k)s, your employer might even chip in a bit on your behalf. Even when times are tough, finding even small amounts to save can put time on your side and make a big difference down the road.
Many investors found out the hard way this year that bonds aren't as safe as they thought, with some major bond funds posting double-digit percentage losses in 2013. Despite those losses, bonds still carry substantial risk in 2014, with many calling for imminent interest-rate hikes that would erode their value further. Even now, bond rates are so low that they don't compensate you much for their risk.
If you pay full price for just about anything these days, you're paying too much. The rise of deep-discount stores has led to falling prices at stores and shopping malls. Moreover, online tools like coupon sites, daily-deal offers, discounted gift cards, and cash-back credit-card deals can cut your costs as well. With all these tools, you won't find many situations in which you have no chance of getting a bargain on the items you want.
In the past, many young adults focused on getting into as strong a college as they could, figuring that their degree would pay them enough to make up for the costs they incurred. With college graduates facing a more challenging job environment than ever, smart students are thinking about college costs before they make a decision on a school. By maximizing financial aid and looking at lower-tuition schools with nearly as strong educational quality, you can avoid creating a big debt hole that you'll struggle with for years into the future.
If you don't have a will, a power of attorney for financial and health-care matters, and an advance directive to tell medical professionals whether you want certain life-preserving measures taken if something happens to you, then you're putting your family at risk. Many people don't have even these basic estate-planning documents, but getting them in place is easier and less expensive than most believe. Get your affairs taken care of in 2014 and save your loved ones some big future hassles.
Resolving to be more financially astute and to avoid common mistakes will help you get your finances in order more quickly. These tips should give you more money to help you meet all your financial goals.