Virtual identity solutions provider Movirtu has been acquired by smartphone manufacturer BlackBerry, the company announced Wednesday. Terms of the transaction were not disclosed. BlackBerry described the deal as part of its overall strategy to woo more corporate clients by expanding its list of value-added services.
Movirtu, a start-up based in the United Kingdom, allows employees to use both a business and personal number on the same device. According to the company, its technology is targeted both at enterprises in which employees use their own handsets (known as BYOD, or "bring your own device") and environments in which IT departments issue devices to personnel (known as COPE, or "corporate-owned personally enabled").
One Device, Multiple Profiles
The company uses a "Virtual SIM" platform, allowing employees to use both a business and personal phone number on the same device, with separate billing for voice, data and messaging usage for each number. As a result, employees can switch between business and personal profiles easily without carrying multiple devices or SIM cards, and charges are appropriately billed to the company and the employee.
According to BlackBerry, the Canadian company is hoping that with the combination of Movirtu's platform and its own BlackBerry Enterprise Service (BES), enterprise customers will be able to apply IT policies to the business number without affecting the usability of the device for personal use.
"In a BYOD and COPE world, there remain a number of efficiency and convenience challenges facing enterprises, employees and mobile operators alike," said John Chen, executive chairman and CEO of BlackBerry. "The acquisition of Movirtu complements our core strategy of providing additional value-added services, and it will leverage our key assets, including our BES platform, along with our existing global infrastructure, which is connected to a large number of mobile operators around the world."
BlackBerry said the deal will also complement its Secure Work Space, BlackBerry Balance, and other partitioning solutions aimed at providing employees with privacy when using their devices for personal reasons, and security and IT management when using them for business purposes. The Movirtu technology will allow them to switch between profiles for calls, data and messaging.
Bringing Back Enterprise Clients
"BlackBerry is the best partner to help us carry forward our vision of redefining the mobile experience by introducing virtual identities," said Carsten Brinkschulte, CEO of Movirtu. "We address the challenges of BYOD and COPE by providing our unique and innovative technology solution through BlackBerry's existing relationships with mobile operators and customers around the world."
BlackBerry said Movirtu's Virtual SIM capabilities would be deployed through its mobile operators on all major smartphone operating systems.
Although BlackBerry once reigned supreme as the king of the enterprise smartphone providers, the company has suffered in recent years as competition from the iPhone and Android-based smartphones have reduced its market share to a fraction of previous levels.
This deal is the latest in a string of acquisitions BlackBerry has made in an effort to turn its fortunes around. In July, BlackBerry announced the acquisition of Secusmart, a German company providing data and voice encryption, in order to appeal to security-conscious clients.