BlackBerry acquires Movirtu to expand BYOD

Steven Loeb · September 11, 2014 · Short URL:

Movirtu allows enterprise customers to implement separate numbers and billing on BYOD devices

The last few years have seen the rise of the bring your own device (BYOD) movement, in which companies are increasingly having their employees use their own personal devices for company business. While many employees seem to like being able to use their preferred device it can also, unfortunately, cause some headaches when it comes to billing.

Enter Movirtu, which has the solution to the problem: it enables employees to have two phone numbers, one for business and the other for personal use, with separate billing as well.

Now the company has now been purchased by BlackBerry, it was announced on Thursday. No financial terms of the deal were disclosed. 

The London-based Movirtu offers separate billing for voice, data and messaging usage on each number, allowing employees to switch between them without needing to carry multiple devices or SIM cards. Now that it will be a part of BlackBerry, Movirtu's enterprise customers will also be able to apply IT policies to the business number without impacting the usability of the device for personal use through BlackBerry's Enterprise Service (BES) platform, 

In an interview conducted on the Inside BlackBerry for Business blog, Carsten Brinkschulte, CEO of Movirtu, he spoke about the opportunities that his company would now have by leveraging BlackBerry's existing infrastructure and partners.

"I knew, as many in the industry, how deep BlackBerry’s enterprise experience and knowledge goes. I also knew that we were tackling something unique that would soon become high in demand as BYOD and COPE proliferates," he said. 

He called BlackBerry’s global infrastructure "unprecedented" and noted that it is "already connected directly to hundreds of mobile operators worldwide."

"Leveraging these existing connections would be the best way to offer quick and reliable deployment of the Movirtu Virtual SIM solution with minimal effort for the operator. Additionally, BlackBerry will help bring the solution to market through their wide network of mobile operators," said Brinkschulte.

For BlackBerry, the purchase gives it a boost in the BYOD space and allows it to offer even more solutions to its enterprise customers.

"Our strategy is to broaden BlackBerry’s solutions and services that enable our customers to fully embrace the potential of enterprise mobility. As we move to a BYOD and COPE world, there remain a number of policy, efficiency and convenience challenges facing enterprises, mobile operators, and consumers alike," John Sims, BlackBerry’s Enterprise President, said in the same interview. 

"By acquiring Movirtu, our aim is to improve BYOD and COPE policy management and billing, increasing efficiency and convenience."

As its role as leader in the smartphone world has diminished over the last five years or so, BlackBerry has increasingly become more focused on the enterprise side of the business  to stay afloat.

In  fact, one of BlackBerry CEO's stated goals in turning his company around was to focus on the enterprise. And for good reason: with a global enterprise customer base exceeding 80,000, and with regulated industries, including the U.S. Department of Defense and all seven of the G7 governments, still relying on BlackBerry, it's a move that certainly makes sense.

Tellingly, this is BlackBerry's second acquisition this year, and both of them were geared toward enterprise customers: in late July, the company purchased Secusmart GmbH, a high-security voice and data encryption and anti-eavesdropping solutions for government organizations, enterprises and telecommunications service providers. 

Founded in 2008, Movirtu had raised $5.5 million in a Series A round of financing back in November of 2010. Investors in the company include TLcom Capital, Gray Ghost DOEN Social Ventures Coöperatief, U.A.

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