RIM Preps Mobile Security App BlackBerry Protect
Research In Motion just unveiled the beta version of its free, cloud-based mobile security service that offers remote backup, restore and locate tools for protecting and finding lost or stolen BlackBerrys. Dubbed BlackBerry Protect, the mobile app will be in the testing stage until "later this year," according to RIM (NASDAQ: RIMM), but is already garnering positive press at CrackBerry.com based on some first impressions. Key features of BlackBerry Protect include the ability to protect data by remotely wiping or locking the mobile device from a user's desktop and the ability to remotely add a customized message with contact information to the home screen of a locked BlackBerry smartphone so it can be returned if found. It also has tracking tools that work with GPS and cell towers and offer the option to see the current location of the device on a map and over-the-air data backup and restore functionality.
The new offering is comprised of an on-device BlackBerry application that runs in the background where users can modify settings as well as Web and desktop apps and a dedicated Web portal where users can login to manage remote features. "I had a chance to get a sneak peek of BlackBerry Protect and and am definitely happy to see RIM bring this service offering to its (consumer/BIS) customers for free... Bottom line is it works as advertised and as you'd expect," writes Kevin Michaluk of CrackBerry.com.
Michaluk goes on to say that BlackBerry Protect is an exciting harbinger of good things to come in regard to RIM's new mobile strategy. "We saw RIM introduce remote backup of contacts with BlackBerry Messenger 5.0, and now with App World 2.0 and BlackBerry Protect RIM is tying this in-the-cloud storage with to the new BlackBerry ID account system, which really starts to make things less messy as a BlackBerry owner. We all know the way Apple works their magic with iTunes and the iTunes account. BlackBerry ID is RIM's way of bringing everything BlackBerry together for a customer, and hopefully they will quickly build on this with more service offerings that take advantage of it and the cloud," he said. BlackBerry Protect is primarily designed for consumers and small businesses, as it will support up to five devices associated with one account. Additionally, BlackBerrys connected to BlackBerry Enterprise Server will override BlackBerry Protect to ensure that corporate data is protected.
Meanwhile, it's interesting to note that rival Apple's MobileMe service, which offers similar tools and services, costs $99 a year. The two mobile titans are battling it out for supremacy in the smartphone sector, with RIM aggressively courting the coveted base for Apple -- the consumer market -- and Apple making gains in the enterprise where RIM has long dominated. Not to be left out, Google also today issued new mobile security management options for Google Apps administrators overseeing iPhones, Windows Mobile handsets and Nokia E Series phones. The added features let them enforce such policies as requiring devices to use data encryption and auto-wiping a device after a specified number of failed password attempts. Admins would also have the option to disable the phone's camera and disable data synchronization when the device is roaming to reduce wireless overage charges.