RIM is set to introduce an application designed to separate business and personal data on smartphones, as the firm looks retain enterprise customers in the wake of the growing challenge from Apple and Android.
BlackBerry Balance will allow IT departments to control data such as corporate email sent through the BlackBerry Enterprise Server, while keeping employee web browsing and social networking details confidential, Jeff McDowell, RIM's senior vice president for business and platform marketing, told Reuters.
Nick McQuire, EMEA research director for enterprise mobility at IDC, suggested that BlackBerry Balance will address the problem of overlapping business and personal use of devices.
"Many firms face increasing management complexities courtesy of the iPhone and iPad entry into the IT environment," he said.
"Although BlackBerry Balance is largely a tactical move for RIM to outwit its competitors, it will be received positively by BlackBerry Enterprise Server customers as more users buy BlackBerrys and bring them into the business environment."
McQuire maintained that RIM has some work to do on the hardware side and expects the firm to release several devices in 2011 which will support the web-kit browser technology acquired through RIM's Torch acquisition.
Leif-Olof Wallin, a research vice president at Gartner, also noted that third-party mobile device management vendors and device manufacturers are increasingly supporting the move towards separating corporate and personal information.
"Nokia has been doing it to a limited extent for a couple of years with its concept of switching profiles. Apple iOS 4 also has some architectural support for dividing corporate and personal data," he said.
"RIM introduced some features in BlackBerry Enterprise Server 5.0.2 to support a segmentation of corporate and personal data a couple of months ago, so it would make sense for the devices to make use of these features."
BlackBerry Balance is expected to start rolling out on smartphones in North America within two months.
McDowell said that the BlackBerry PlayBook will be updated to support the BlackBerry Enterprise Server after release.
V3.co.uk contacted RIM to confirm features and UK launch dates, but the firm had not responded at the time of writing.
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