Samsung's Knox to be tightly integrated with BlackBerry's BES12

Fights common enemy Apple with new partnership

Under-pressure BlackBerry is fighting back, announcing a tie-up with Samsung that will bring the firm's BlackBerry Enterprise Service 12 (BES 12) security to Android handsets running the South Korean vendor's Knox containerisation system.

Knox has already boosted Samsung's Android enterprise credibility when it comes to security so what will BlackBerry's new unified platform, due for release early in 2015, add to this?

The core is familiarity and maturity. BES has been around for years and is being pitched as the best enterprise mobility management (EMM) system for large organisations to look after not only Android devices but those running iOS, Windows Phone 8 and of course BlackBerry.

Knox is promoted as the best Android device security technology, managed using a system many firms will already be familiar with. Other EMM systems are available to manage Knox, so this is really about BlackBerry's multi-platform prowess.

Being backed by Samsung also implies tight integration, which could give BlackBerry an edge over rivals.

"BlackBerry has developed a very close partnership with Samsung and we're committed to deepening the interaction between our engineering and product development teams for the long-term," said BlackBerry president of Global Enterprise Services, John Sims.

"It is a natural progression in our path to providing our customers with more alternatives to meet their evolving mobile needs. Samsung KNOX offers a number of hardware and software security features and our partnership allows us to tightly integrate these capabilities with BES12."

Features will include, protection against application security bypasses and software flaws, improved kernel-level security, a better user experience so that security features wouldn't get in the way of productivity and, of course, strict separation of work and personal devices usage, he said.

In an industry in which partnerships aren't always equal of particular significant, this looks like a match of equals. Samsung sells a lot of high-end smartphones but could do with selling more to businesses and security is essential to that push; BlackBerry just needs to make itself relevant in any way it can and a cross-platform strategy gives it more purchase.

When it launches early next year, Samsung will resell BES12 to joint customers while BlackBerry will offer KNOX to its Gold BES12 subscribers. Pricing will be announced at launch, BlackBerry said.

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