BlackBerry maker Research in Motion has a lot to crow about today.
A new partnership with HP (NYSE: HPQ), announced today, lays the groundwork for Web-based printing, mobile management software and managed deployment services for enterprises using RIM’s (NASDAQ: RIMM) BlackBerry devices.
News of the HP-RIM alliance comes on the heels of reports that models of the BlackBerry Curve outsold the popular Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL) iPhone in the first quarter, according to the NPD Group.
Those developments mark the latest indication that interest in smartphones is reaching an all-time high. Smartphones, which represented just 17 percent of handset sales volume in Q1 2008, now make up 23 percent of sales, according to NPD.
Things won’t be slowing during the coming summer, with Palm’s (NASDAQ: PALM) make-or-break Pre device set for release by June, new iPhones from Apple rumored for next month and several Android-based handhelds coming from Samsung. Motorola is planning Android phones out in time for the holiday shopping season.
While the consumer space has been seeing a great deal of the action in smartphones, enterprises are seeking enhanced features and functionality from their own devices. That’s one area in which HP and RIM are aiming to capitalize.
Together, two companies’ are offering HP CloudPrint for BlackBerry Smartphones, HP Operations Manager for BlackBerry Enterprise Server and Managed BlackBerry Services — adding Web printing, mobile management and managed deployment services to their lineups.
One of the ways HP and RIM hope to do just that is through HP CloudPrint for BlackBerry smartphones, which enables users to print e-mails, documents, photos and Web pages from a BlackBerry with ease, Victor Garcia, CTO for Hewlett-Packard Canada, told InternetNews.com. The software does not require any drivers and is printer-agnostic, he added.
Right now, the app is in the final testing phase and will be available by the end of the year.
“CloudPrint is an example of increased functionality because it liberates mobile users from the tyranny of the operating system,” Garcia said.
HP is also introducing software to centrally monitor and manage the BlackBerry’s use in the enterprise, whether virtual or physical. Dubbed HP Operations Manager for BlackBerry Enterprise, the offering correlates events from a number of sources — BlackBerry Enterprise Server software, mail servers, databases, Microsoft Active Directory and server operating systems such as Windows Server — to help customers pinpoint potential issues and take corrective actions to remediate them.
Relying on a single console reduces costs associated with monitoring multiple consoles and provides customers with a consolidated view into events, enabling them to manage performance and deliver optimal service levels for BlackBerry messaging services, Garcia said.
Finally, on the infrastructure front, HP is introducing Managed BlackBerry Services, part of HP’s EDS Mobile Workplace Services, allowing organizations to outsource the management of their BlackBerry smartphone deployments “so they can focus on their core businesses,” Garcia said.
The services are designed to integrate the mobility ecosystems for large enterprises, whether they are hosted in EDS’ data centers or in a client’s own environment.
[cob:Special_Report]”We want to increase reliability and trust — we want CIOs to trust their BlackBerry mobile platform as much as they trust their HP servers and laptops in running their core business,” Garcia said. “And … we want to reduce cost and complexity in overseeing and operating the ecosystem.”
Currently, EDS, the giant IT services firm acquired by HP last year for $13.9 billion, manages close to 500,000 BlackBerry smartphones for clients, according to Garcia.
The new offerings come at a time when RIM, with much less fanfare, manages to hold on to its dominance in the enterprise, with brisk sales for its last quarter. Meanwhile, the iconic iPhone continues to sell at a staggering clip, and recent data from Forrester Research shows the iPhone nibbling at the enterprise market with some success. Both companies reported relatively positive numbers in their earnings reports.
Garcia attributes RIM’s earnings and recent success in bumping the iPhone from the headlines for the moment as Curve sales surpassed the iconic device to its dominance in the enterprise.
“The mobility value chain is a bit more complex than just the device, how shiny one device is versus another. You need to allow people to connect to their enterprise system, it’s a big ecosystem with many applications that must be optimized for the mobile environment with an intelligent infrastructure, security, network access control, management systems, help desks.
“You need all those components to make it a true solution, that’s what RIM and HP do. Many companies try to just put a Web front end on things and make them mobile, but that’s never successful because you need to be designed for the mobile environment from the ground up.”