BlackBerry Opens Device Management to Rivals in Break From Past

BlackBerry Ltd. is opening its software to competitors like International Business Machines Corp. and Citrix Systems Inc., giving corporate customers more choices in how to manage their fleet of BlackBerry 10 phones.

BlackBerry will give other mobile-device management companies direct access to smartphones that use the BlackBerry 10 operating system, according to a statement today. Before this, companies were only able to use BlackBerry software to keep track of their employees’ BlackBerry phones, install software on them and wipe them clean if they were lost.

To keep from losing more market share with business customers, BlackBerry is seeking to remove some of the isolation it had with its standalone phone-management system. The move comes as Chief Executive Officer John Chen attempts to turn around the struggling company by moving phone manufacturing to contractors and focusing more on software and messaging services.

By opening device management to competitors, Chen is giving up BlackBerry’s status as the exclusive provider of full BlackBerry phone management. He’s also acknowledging that more companies are letting employees use a variety of mobile devices for work, from iPhones to Androids to BlackBerrys. BlackBerry’s own management software, BlackBerry Enterprise Service, already works with smartphone software from Apple Inc. and Google Inc., and a new version will soon offer support for Microsoft Corp.’s Windows Phone operating system.

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