BlackBerry Signs Up Samsung, Others in New Mobile Services Push

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BlackBerry Ltd (BBRY) struck partnerships with Samsung Electronics Co Ltd and other high-profile players to enhance the capabilities of the new mobile-device management and security platform it unveiled on Thursday, and its shares jumped 8 percent.

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BlackBerry and Samsung, the world's largest mobile phone maker, will offer a "highly secure mobility solution" for Samsung's Android phones starting in early 2015. The system couples BlackBerry's enterprise platform capability with the South Korean company's own security software for its Galaxy devices.

"The partnership with Samsung is a very big deal," said John Jackson, a technology analyst at IDC. "It's hard to imagine a partnership with more significant practical impact potential."

BlackBerry said the Samsung tie-up is a long-term commitment.

"To make this Samsung partnership happen, we went to the highest levels of both companies, so this is a very serious relationship," said John Sims, BlackBerry's head of global enterprise services, calling the deal "the tip of the iceberg".

BlackBerry also touted a string of improvements to its existing products, including mobile video-conferencing via its messaging app and the ability to divide usage costs between employer and employee.

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BlackBerry's Nasdaq-listed shares were up 8.7 percent at $12.25, their highest since August 2013.

CONNECTING MACHINES

The new platform, the BlackBerry Enterprise Service, or BES12, will allow corporations and government agencies to manage and make secure not only BlackBerry's mobile devices, but also those running on operating systems such as Google Inc's (GOOGL) Android, Apple's (AAPL) iOS and Microsoft's (MSFT) Windows platform.

For the first time, the platform will also be able to manage the use of medical diagnostic equipment, industrial machinery and motor vehicles.

BlackBerry also announced a BES12 deal with Brightstar, the world's largest wireless distribution company, and a tie-up with business software company Salesforce.com Inc (CRM) that will let clients in healthcare and other regulated industries use Salesforce software to securely access data via the BlackBerry platform.

"It looks as though BES12 ticks all the boxes," IDC's Jackson said. "The challenges are it is just a phenomenally competitive environment full of very capable, very well-capitalized big guys like IBM and SAP."

The new products and services are the backbone of BlackBerry Chief Executive John Chen's plan to turn around the smartphone pioneer, whose devices have lost ground to Apple's iPhone, Samsung's Galaxy devices and a slew of other gadgets powered by Google's Android operating system.

While still a player in the smartphone business, BlackBerry is pivoting to focus on services and the demands of a large base of enterprise clients that are increasingly grappling with data security concerns.

The Waterloo, Ontario-based company said its customers have registered for five million BES licenses since it launched a migration push in March, with some 30 percent of them moving from rival mobile-device management platforms.

(By Euan Rocha; Additional reporting by Alastair Sharp; Editing by Alden Bentley; and Peter Galloway)