Fresh from its promise of focusing more on their traditional corporate customers, Research In Motion has announced the release of its BlackBerry Mobile Fusion software today, which will enable companies to manage iOS and Android devices through the same servers used for BlackBerry smartphones and the Playbook tablet. That includes configuring devices with email and calendar access, creating groups, establishing security policies, managing lost phones, controlling roaming to avoid pricey fees, and more.
RIM is offering a 60-day free trial for the new service and after that a Client Access License will cost $99 per user plus an additional $4 per user a month, with discounts available for bulk orders.
The move is an acknowledgement of the rise of competing OSs in the enterprise market. Although this is still a strong point for the Canadian handset maket, which appeals to big organizations because of its famed security advantages, many users have switched to Android and iOS as companies start to embrace BYOD (bring your own device) policies either to save cash or take advantage of the wealth of apps available.
As a result companies are looking to Microsoft's Exchange ActiveSync and other third-party services to manage a mixed environment of devices. Mobile Fusion is RIM's response to this reality.
Compatibility with Apple iOS and Google Android will also add further weight to rumors that RIM is planning to release services like its BlackBerry Messenger (BBM) on to competitors' devices. Unfortunately, there's was no mention of such plans in today's announcement, so this remains purely speculation for now.