BlackBerry took its first steps towards its mobile device management (MDM)-centric future this week. At Mobile World Congress (MWC) in Barcelona, it announced plans for a new version of BlackBerry Enterprise Server by the end of 2014 and a free migration deal for users of other MDM platforms.
BlackBerry's announcement of two new handset models (a bargain-priced Z3 model for Indonesia, and a forthcoming Q20 handset that restores its classic hard buttons and trackpoint) is likely to attract much of the attention from MWC, but its MDM solutions appear to represent the main future for the company given the dominance of Android and iOS in the handset market. BES12, which is due for release by the end of the year, will add the ability to support Windows Phone devices (it already manages iOS, Android and BlackBerry devices).
To try and attract customers to that platform, BlackBerry is also offering free migration for users of other MDM packages or older BES releases. The EZ Pass program will be valid between 31 March 2014 and 31 January 2015 — the assumption presumably being that customers will then migrate onto the newly-released 2014 version. Under the scheme, customers receive "perpetual BES10 Silver licences for all of your existing BlackBerry licences and your other active mobile device management (MDM) licences on a 1 for 1 basis".
Blackberry also launched a new Enterprise BBM messaging platform at MWC, though that won't appear until mid-year.