As was widely reported some months ago, Research in Motion, the company responsible for BlackBerry, had announced that it was developing a multi-platform upgrade to BlackBerry Enterprise Server (BES), which would allow it to integrate with both iOS and Android devices via a single interface.
Yesterday they announced that this service, snazzily titled BlackBerry Mobile Fusion, has entered closed beta testing. This sounds promising, since 'fusion' - whether of hydrogen atoms or regional cuisines - is topped only by 'synergy' on the list of desirable things to have. RIM hopes to have the full service available to customers by March 2012.
It has long been assumed that the many tangible benefits conferred by BlackBerry - including unsurpassed security - mostly reside in the BES back-end rather than in the devices themselves. Indeed, by opening up BES to a broader range of devices that people actually want to use, it would would seem that RIM has given the business world even less of a reason to deploy a fleet of BlackBerry devices. RIM insists that they are only responding to an evolving workplace environment, in which 'BYOD' is becoming the norm. (BYOD stands for 'bring your own device', which is apparently too technical a concept to be conveyed without the help of an acronym.)
In any case, workers are BYODing in ever greater numbers, and they aren't bringing BlackBerry. A steadily accelerating loss of market share means that the writing has been on the wall for some time. RIM is doubtless correct in playing to its strong suit (BES), even if it means their handset sales will tumble further.