New Software: BlackBerry Balance

Posted on Friday, Jan 14 2011 on 12:00 PM

BlackBerry owners who use their phones for work sometimes have to give up a bit of control over their smartphones. In order to ensure seamless integration with the enterprise email system, that can mean having the phone managed by their company's IT department. While it makes sense to let the pros worry about taking care of smartphones used for business, things can get complicated when you use that same BlackBerry as your personal phone, and the phone ends up storing a mix of business and personal data. RIM has just announced BlackBerry Balance, a new program for better managing the intersection of those two worlds.

BlackBerry Balance is very different from some of the other ideas we've heard of for segregating your smartphone into a "work mode" and a "play mode". Both LG and Apple have worked on ways to use virtualization or multiple profiles to transform your phone into several virtual phones, which you could then switch between as the need arose.

RIM's new system does define certain parts of your phone as "work mode", but you can access those apps and data simultaneously with your personal stuff. The key is in managing the interaction between those two areas. For instance, if IT needs to do a wipe of your phone and reinstall some software, they can specify to only have it clear business-related materials. Companies can also use it to enforce confidentiality, warning or blocking you from copying information from something on the work side of the phone into the personal side.

This sounds like an easier system for the user to deal with than switching back-and-forth between different virtual operating systems, but it seems like it places a pretty big burden on the corporate IT department to administer things. Do you think it's worth the effort, or would you just rather carry a separate smartphone for personal use?


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