Is Samsung Stepping on BlackBerry’s Toes?

on February 15 2013 3:35 PM

The news that former Research in Motion co-chief executive officer Jim Balsillie cut his last ties to the company now known as BlackBerry (NASDAQ:BBRY) hit the company’s stock like a strong uppercut to the jaw.

On Thursday, it was revealed that as of December 31, Balsillie owned zero shares in the company, down from the 5.1 percent stake he had a year ago. At one time, he had been Research in Motion’s third-largest shareholder, Bloomberg reported. BlackBerry shares dipped 6 percent on the news as investors began to wonder why the man who spent twenty years building up the smartphone manufacturer would want to dump his holding entirely.

While the stock reversed some of its losses, shares were once again trading down on another piece of bad news on Friday morning. The Boston-based brokerage firm Detwiler Fenton said in a note, seen by BGR News, that Samsung (SSNLF:PK) had plans to reveal a new enterprise platform at the Mobile World Congress trade show later this month that will be highly competitive with the BlackBerry 10 operating system. This would be a huge blow for BlackBerry, with the company counting big on the enterprise market to boost the adoption of its new smartphones.

Samsung’s new platform SAFE — an acronym for Samsung Approved For Enterprise — will be built using the Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) operating system Android. In a market where operating system differentiation has largely been based on user interface or application and content stores, Samsung is striking out in a different direction — BlackBerry’s direction.

BlackBerry’s chief executive officer Thorsten Heins made a big deal out of the 70,000 apps that were launched with the BlackBerry Z10 — and rightly so, since a poor app library helped Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) push the BlackBerry out of the top smartphone slot. However, the company built its reputation on the idea that its devices could offer businesses secure communications. Samsung is grabbing on to this idea. Its new platform will be designed with the ability to secure, manage, and integrate with key enterprise systems more effectively than the typical Android setup.

The tweaks that Samsung has made to Android point to a new trend in the smartphone industry. Analysts have dedicated many commentaries and research notes to analyze which operating system, BlackBerry 10 or Microsoft’s (NASDAQ:MSFT) Windows 8, will be able to secure enough customer enthusiasm to rival the market share held by Apple’s iOS and Android. But the math is not that simple. It is increasingly difficult to consider Android a single platform, and Samsung is not the only one making changes to it. Amazon’s (NASDAQ:AMZN) Kindle and Barnes & Noble’s (NYSE:BKS) Nook are based on Android, but the two companies have modified their devices’ interfaces, apps,and setups to differentiate their products.

Apple does not allow such manipulation, but with iOS catering to enterprise customers as well and the increasing number of different Android platforms, BlackBerry is facing a whole host of competition.

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