As BlackBerry Ltd.’s problems mount, other companies are jumping in to capitalize on any inklings its corporate customers might have about switching to other mobile devices. Waterloo, Ont.-based BlackBerry’s ongoing issues—the latest, the Nov. 4 news that a proposed acquisition led by Fairfax Financial Holding Ltd. had been called off—have created uncertainty about the company’s future structure, ownership, and even the products and services it might provide. At the same time, that uncertainty is creating opportunities for other companies, like the Mountain View, Calif.-based MobileIron, said Ojas Rege, its vice president of strategy. “We see an opportunity to go after about 20 million BlackBerry licences,” he said in an emailed response to interview questions. On Nov. 6, MobileIron announced services it said would make devices powered by Google Inc.’s Android software “an acceptable solution for enterprises that have traditionally used BlackBerry.” He said MobileIron encrypts information, including email attachments, application data and cached web data, that is stored on mobile devices. The company also offers a feature called Web@Work, which allows remote access of corporate web properties that are behind firewalls, without the need for a virtual private network (VPN). MobileIron also offers services to make Apple Inc.’s iPhone and those operating on Microsoft Corp.’s Windows software suitable for enterprise use. Along with iPass, an international operator of WiFi networks, it published a report in February that said Apple Inc.’s iPhone passed the BlackBerry as the most-supported device among corporate IT departments last year. It said the iPhone is now supported by 74 per cent of enterprises, among the 477 global companies it surveyed, compared to the second-place BlackBerry at 62 per cent—a reversal from 2011, when Blackberry was at 77 per cent and the iPhone at 52 per cent. The Wire Report reported in September that many of the company's roughly 70 million subscribers around the world are high-profile enterprise clientele in the health, government and finance sectors, who are watching the company's efforts to recover. When asked about concerns the company has over losing ground in the enterprise market, BlackBerry spokeswoman Rebecca Freiburger said in an emailed statement that “BlackBerry is here to stay, and we remain steadfast in our mission to deliver the most secure and powerful mobile management solutions and smartphones to our customers.” She added that BlackBerry is not just a phone maker; it is also “a multi-platform solutions provider that will ultimately manage any device, whether it’s corporate-owned or BYOD (bring your own device).” Gartner Research analyst Ken Dulaney said in telephone interview that it’s unlikely BlackBerry will close its doors and not be available to support its devices and network—though it’s still a risk companies should consider. The Redwood City, Calif.-based Dulaney, who has advised companies to consider moving away from BlackBerry devices and its enterprise network, said companies need to have a Plan B. “To whatever commitment they made to BlackBerry … they need to have a backup strategy so if things went south they could convert over to that other platform,” Dulaney said. Those other platforms include a product called GravityZone, with features such as centrally controlled password access, encryption of data on devices and secure VPN usage for Android phones and iPhones, from the Romanian-based Bitdefender. Shaun Donaldson, BitDefender’s Ottawa-based director of alliances, said BlackBerry’s problems have created opportunities for companies like his, though he said growth in this market started before BlackBerry’s “recent troubles.” It began about two years ago when a trend toward BYOD became prominent in the corporate world, he said. “The BYOD battle was probably lost (for BlackBerry) the first time a director or a C-level person showed up with their latest tablet or latest device and said, ‘I’d like to be on the network and accessing email from this,’” he said. “And from that point, IT departments everywhere said, ‘OK, well BYOD has just been introduced.’ ... Since then, it’s been a creeping encroachment into BlackBerry’s ownership in enterprise.” Asked about alternatives for companies interested in optimizing devices other than BlackBerrys for corporate use, Dulaney listed a number of companies that are making technology that can help, including MobileIron, Citrix Systems Inc., FiberLink Communications Corp. and SAP AG. “They will manage and, to some extent, secure the devices,” said Dulaney. SAP, which offers services that give a company central control over device operability, secures its applications or the content stored on it, allows customers to choose one, two or all three levels of security, said Adam Stein, head of SAP’s Mobile Secure division in Palo Alto, Calif. Stein said it’s not so much worries about BlackBerry’s future ability to support its products that drive firms to have other devices backed up for enterprise use. He said it’s largely because of BlackBerry phones’ limitations in flexibility for using different applications and the ease with which information can be shared between different devices, mobile or not. He said that BlackBerry Enterprise Server, the highly secure system used to manage BlackBerry operations for organizations, “doesn’t allow a lot of easy community sharing of content … and it doesn’t allow you to have access to app wrapping,” a feature SAP offers that protects applications on a device from other, potentially malicious apps. Dulaney said that “there’s no question that BlackBerry still retains the crown as the most secure platform, but there are others that come pretty darn close.” Rege, the vice president of strategy at MobileIron, also said that “BlackBerry remains the gold standard” for security, though he added that Android and MobileIron combine for a better user experience than BlackBerry with comparable security standards. Dulaney said there are very few organizations, such as those with operations related to government, military, health care and finance, that require the high level of security offered by BlackBerry. That doesn’t mean they can’t consider other options; even with its strict security needs, the U.S. Defense Department this year approved iPhones and iPads for use on their networks. Dulaney said the BlackBerry alternatives that increase the security and manageability of devices for enterprises have a good track record so far. “I can’t tell you I’ve had one person call me and say they’ve had some breach with these other devices,” he said. “And that kind of surprised me.” With reporting by Derek Abma at email@example.com and editing by Anja Karadeglija at firstname.lastname@example.org.