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BlackBerry first announced in February its plans to dress up its consumer app in a business suit. The new set of features, called the eBBM Suite, taps into the BlackBerry Enterprise software, servers and hosted services already used by its corporate and government customers. The encrypted version of BBM, called BBM Protected, is the first of those features available, BlackBerry said today.
The service meets U.S. government standard requirements for cryptography (FIPS 140-2), which allows user to exchange private, encrypted communications between BBM clients both within and without a company or organization. External communications between organizations using different messaging servers could be a key feature for landing government and corporate contacts. For instance, defense agencies could communicate securely with their contractors, or big companies could encrypt their communications with their law firms.
Currently BBM can run on older BlackBerry devices with BBOS 6 or later or new smartphones using BBOS 10 in regulated mode. But BlackBerry also plans to expand BBM Protected to other operating systems as it does with its consumer app. iOS and Android versions of the secure app will be available later this year, BlackBerry said.
BlackBerry’s smartphone star is definitely falling, but lately it’s been focusing on using its communications platform its different ways. Last week it announced a deal with Canadian NFC-smartphone payments venture EnStream to secure credit card transactions on not just BlackBerry but Android phones. As Gigaom Research analyst Stowe Boyd pointed out, BlackBerry’s network, not its hardware division, is now it’s most valuable asset.