One of BlackBerry's potential money makers is its mobility management service, BlackBerry Enterprise Service (BES) 10. On Wednesday, the company announced that BES will now be available as a hosted service from six providers.
BES allows customers to utilize the secure BlackBerry network, while managing iOS and Android devices as well as BlackBerry devices. The company said on its Web site that German management company Isec7 will provide worldwide hosting, and three Germany-based companies -- Solvito, Systag Systemhaus and BFI -- will provide that service in their countries. IBM's Germany subsidiary will also provide service to European customers, and Exchange My Mail will cover North America.
John Sims, President of BlackBerry's Enterprise Services, said in a statement that BES 10 Hosted "is focused on providing more choices and flexibility in how customers can manage their mobile environments." He added that the company is "working closely with our hosting partners to deliver best-in-class managed services to customers in a way that meets their unique business needs without compromising on security, reliability and cost-efficiency."
The hosted service will provide a self-service portal for authentication and device management, and the partners' hosting will be backed by BlackBerry's tech support. To ensure security of company files and apps, the service supports container options for all device types -- built-in BlackBerry Balance for BB10 devices, and Secure Work Space for iOS and Android.
There are also application management capabilities, including the ability to ensure device compliance, distribute apps, and centrally manage apps through app catalogs and configuration profiles.
This hosted solution also potentially opens up BES 10 to a larger market of small businesses, as well as larger enterprises. The pricing starts at $19 per device annually, plus $4 per year for support. Security features and advanced management features for non-BlackBerry devices will cost $60 a device per year, plus $12 for support.
In other BlackBerry news, the company's recently announced, square-shape Passport is attracting attention. While some reviewers are praising the bold shape, BlackBerry Natural Sound Technology, long battery life, and four adaptive microphones, others are suggesting the company didn't completely think through how to make the keyboard and other features work best in that form factor.
BlackBerry, meanwhile, is saying that the new device is stimulating thousands of comments online.
In a post last week on its corporate blog, the company said that judging by the sampling of comments, there were many people who are "announcing their plans to walk away from Android and iOS and come -- or, in many cases, return -- to BlackBerry." This migration is occurring, apparently, even though the device doesn't launch until September.
Additionally, a new report from Forbes magazine said that BlackBerry will be joining the intelligent voice-enabled assistant trend, now populated by the likes of Apple's Siri, Microsoft's Cortana and Google's Google Now. The new BlackBerry Assistant, according to the report, will be available in the new BB 10.3 OS, and the first model to have the Assistant will be the Passport.