BlackBerry are a business that have undergone significant changes in the last decade. BlackBerry smartphones were once the standard device for business use and had started making inroads into the consumer market, when the company were completely wrong-footed by the adoption of the touchscreen interface compared with the physical keyboard that many of their devices used. The business bought QNX and used this as the basis for the new BlackBerry 10 operating system, which offers a smooth, usable interface combined with the ability to sideload and run Android applications combined with Blackberry's expertise in security. The new Chief Executive Officer, John Chen, has been reinventing itself as something of a security expert and today I bring you the news that this expertise has been recognized by Google: BlackBerry have announced it is to partner Google to help make Android devices used in the enterprise environment more secure than ever.
BlackBerry's comments are: "BlackBerry and Google are working closely together to set new standards in enterprise mobile security for organizations deploying Android devices. Android Lollipop delivers key enterprise functionality and addresses any previous enterprise security concerns. BES 12 supports Android Lollipop, allowing you to confidently deploy Android devices in your organization." As well as providing standard BES 12 (BlackBerry Enterprise Service), BlackBerry comments that the tie-in with Google will allow for new features including the ability to set new levels of hardware-based encryption and better integrate Google Play for Work for increased management support. This story comes a few weeks after the announcement and rumors that BlackBerry are working on a smartphone running Android, expected to launch this fall. The new device will offer upper mid-range specifications, but BlackBerry devices have never been about specifications but instead have been about the software and embedded security.
For Google, BlackBerry's reputation and security expertise will help keep Android relevant for big business, where bring your own device (BYOD) is an increasingly popular choice for employees. Security is often seen as Android's weakness compared with other platforms, which is as much about Google's mobile operating system being flexible and Apple's misguided, bitter statements on the matter.