What Blackberry thinks of Google’s partnership with Samsung to bring KNOX to Android

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At Google I/O 2014, several changes were announced that will be coming to Android when the new version is made official later in the year. One of those was that Google is partnering with Samsung to bring KNOX to the whole of Android. KNOX has hitherto been a preserve of Samsung’s Android-powered Galaxy devices and was already flying high with certifications by the likes of the US and UK governments. Of course all this has been happening while the previous holder of the throne of all matters enterprise security, Blackberry, has been watching from a distance.

Unsurprisingly, Blackberry CEO and Chairman John Cheng took to the company’s blog the day after that announcement to pen the obvious: everything being announced doesn’t measure up to Blackberry’s trusted enterprise security suite. He tears into Android as an “insecure platform” and KNOX’s efforts are simply in vain as Blackberry’s security efforts are not just limited to a container but are in every bit of the operating system powering Blackberry devices.

BlackBerry architects security into every single layer, from our BlackBerry 10-enabled devices (which, by the way, can securely run your Android apps) to the networks upon which your messages and data travel, to our secure messaging platform BBM Protected to the BES management software. It’s why we have won 45 security certifications, more than any other vendor, including the only coveted “Full Operational Capability” certificate to run on U.S. Department of Defense networks to a mobile vendor.

While Chen is right (you can’t dispute that, can you?) to blow his trumpet and tell us that Blackberry is still the gold standard when it comes to enterprise security, it is changing times and the inability to change with those times that have placed Blackberry at a disadvantage since users wanted devices they could use beyond the workplace (hence the containerization aspect of Samsung’s KNOX). Read emails, surf the internet, chat with friends and co-workers as well, play games and watch videos… The likes of Apple’s iPhone and the various Android devices in the market took care of that as Blackberry watched and took long to respond. Those devices can be used for both work and play with only security being the issue and this is slowly being addressed as can be witnessed by Google’s and Samsung’s efforts. Blackberry devices were simply “for work” devices until late. With BB 10 devices they are trying to address this hence even the compatibility with Android apps but as they say, numbers don’t lie and those numbers aren’t showing anything good for the Waterloo-based company and its most recent devices starting with the Z10.

Probably upcoming Blackberry hardware like the Passport, software like eBBM suite or its new focus on key markets like Indonesia will change fortunes, who knows?

A question: the iPad is the de facto king of tablets and is used in very many offices for productivity and entertainment as well. We all know how Blackberry’s tablet efforts went with the Playbook. Do they have something to cannibalize on the iPad and the Android and Windows 8 tablets that are popping up everywhere?

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