BlackBerry to make tablets again; with some help from Samsung/IBM

The BlackBerry Playbook didn’t last very long in the market, but the Canadian vendor is hoping a laser focus and some big partners will make its latest foray into the tablet market a success.

Secusmart is a BlackBerry subsidiary based in Germany that develops technology solutions for protecting businesses and governments from electronic eavesdropping, and it has teamed with Samsung and IBM on its latest product: the SecuTablet.

Designed for the security-conscious enterprise and government customers that are BlackBerry’s new focus market, the SecuTablet is a high-security tablet based on the Samsung Galaxy Tab S 10.5. It allows data that is subject to special security requirements to be used on the move in a secure way, and personal applications such as Facebook, YouTube, Twitter and WhatsApp can also be used.

“Security is ingrained in every part of BlackBerry’s portfolio, which includes voice and data encryption solutions,” said Hans-Christoph Quelle, CEO of Secusmart, in a statement. “National and international government customers have entrusted their voice and data communications with the Secusmart Security Card for years. This same technology is what secures the new SecuTablet. Working alongside IBM and Samsung, we have added the last link in the chain of the Federal Security Network. Subject to certification of the SecuTablet, German government agencies will have a new way to access BlackBerry’s most secure and complete communications network in the world.”

An IBM study found that 63 per cent of public sector respondents would like mobile access to their specialized applications such as budgeting and controlling, but as the data is subject to special security requirements today mobile access to those applications is not permitted.

“The SecuTablet closes a supply gap and opens up for government and administrations an opportunity to derive greater benefit from digitization and the mobile Internet, with system integration as a fundamental success factor,” said Stefan Hefter, senior management consultant with IBM, in a statement. “We have contributed our longstanding expertise as a system integrator for mobile solutions. The technology used to make mobile apps secure by means of so-called wrapping has already proven its worth in the United States.”

Industry analyst Roberta Fox from the Fox Group said IBM and BlackBerry have already been working together to create the security software, so joining with a “successful” hardware manufacturer, rather than attempting to do it yourself, makes a lot of sense.

IBM’s participation includes the secure app wrapping technology used for the SecuTablet and assistance with security infrastructure inside client organizations, and Samsung is the hardware partner with its Galaxy Tab S 10.5 used as the base, and the Samsung Knox enterprise mobility security solution is integrated as well.

Published reports put the product price at US$2,380 which is expected to include the Secusmart MicroSD encryption card and one year of maintenance. It was unveiled at the recent CeBIT conference in Germany.

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Jeff Jedras
Jeff Jedras
A veteran technology and business journalist, Jeff Jedras began his career in technology journalism in the late 1990s, covering the booming (and later busting) Ottawa technology sector for Silicon Valley North and the Ottawa Business Journal, as well as everything from municipal politics to real estate. He later covered the technology scene in Vancouver before joining IT World Canada in Toronto in 2005, covering enterprise IT for ComputerWorld Canada. He would go on to cover the channel as an assistant editor with CDN. His writing has appeared in the Vancouver Sun, the Ottawa Citizen and a wide range of industry trade publications.

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