Samsung v. BlackBerry? Android-maker shows off new tool for the corporate world
A woman stands behind a Samsung logo at Samsung Electronics Co. showroom inside its headquarters in Seoul, South Korea on Feb. 1, 2013. (AP / Ahn Young-joon)
The Canadian Press
Published Monday, February 25, 2013 2:07PM EST
TORONTO -- Samsung is making a major move into the corporate smartphone market once dominated by BlackBerry.
The company behind the Galaxy line of smartphones -- which along with Apple's iPhone dominates market share -- announced the Samsung Knox on Monday.
The "enterprise mobile solution" is aimed at strengthening Samsung's position in the business to business market, which BlackBerry is also targeting with its new line of smartphones.
Enterprise customers who buy devices for many employees at a time helped BlackBerry become a symbol of mobile communications innovation and served as a stabilizing force as consumers turned to rival devices in droves.
Samsung says its Knox allows enterprise customers, who are mainly employees at government, corporate and private businesses, to use one device for both "work and play."
It's a direct challenge to Waterloo, Ont.,-based BlackBerry (TSX:BB), which is hoping its BlackBerry 10 enterprise service can help restore the troubled company to its former glory.
BlackBerry's new line of phones are also touted as a work-play solution -- through its BlackBerry Balance feature -- and the company has made other moves recently in an attempt to fend off enterprise market competitors.
Last month, BlackBerry opened up its secure enterprise service to other smartphones like the iPhone and Android devices for the first time in its history -- recognizing the growing bring-your-own-device to work trend.
Just days before BlackBerry's move, an investment wing of Samsung Group -- the leading Android smartphone maker -- announced a "strategic investment" in Toronto-based Fixmo Inc., a software maker that specializes in data and device security.
Apple Inc. executives have also made a point of emphasizing the popularity of their iPad tablet with major banks and government agencies. The iPhone has also gained traction in the enterprise market, the executive said on the company's earnings call in January.
Analysts are split on the future of BlackBerry and its prospects for sales success. Last week, Canaccord Genuity pulled back its expectations for the smartphone maker.
The investment firm said it believes that shipments of the new BlackBerry devices in February will total just 300,000 units, a far cry for its initial estimate of more than 1.75 million.
The Canadian smartphone pioneer revealed its new phones in late January at a splashy New York City event but is making them available in stages.
The U.S. release is expected to be in March, following February launches of the Z10 touchscreen model in the United Kingdom and Canada.
The BlackBerry Q10, which will have the physical keypad beloved by the so-called CrackBerry crowd, follows in April.
It also named singer Alicia Keys as its brand "ambassador." The company announced she will begin a North American tour on March 7 in Seattle, Wash., near the corporate home of Microsoft, followed on March 8 by a concert at the Rogers Arena in Vancouver -- the only Canadian date until April 2 and 3 when she'll be in Toronto and Montreal.
Other dates through March are planned for three cities in California (Oakland, Los Angeles, San Diego), Las Vegas, Nev., three dates in Texas (Dallas, Houston, Austin), New Orleans, La., and five stops in the U.S. Southeast (Miami, Tampa, Cherokee, N.C., Atlanta and Greensboro, N.C.)