RIM recently announced that its PlayBook has become the first tablet to achieve FIPS 140-2 certification. Although other tablet vendors will likely reach this milestone sometime soon, this is big news for RIM. Clearly the highly regulated markets where FIPS 140-2 certification has appeal – namely government, financial services and healthcare – represent markets where RIM first cut its teeth. According to VDC’s research, these are markets where RIM continues to have a dominant share. However, the need for robust mobile security solutions extends well beyond these sectors and impacts virtually every industry today.
The FIPS (Federal Information Processing Standard) Publication 140-2 is a US government security standard used to accredit cryptographic modules (or Hardware Security Module). The FIPS 140-2 standard is an accreditation program for cryptographic models produced by private sector organizations (such as RIM) whose products are sold to government organizations and regulated industries that collect, store, transfer and share sensitive but unclassified information. Therefore, it is perhaps not surprising that they are first out of the gate with this capability. What is important, however, is that RIM is staying focused on what is critical among its core clients.
Clearly RIM is still challenged at finding the appropriate balance between designing devices that appeal to both the corporate and individual/consumer mindsets (if that is even possible). What the company needs to realize, however, is that they are not a consumer brand. Never have been and likely never will be. That does not mean that devices designed for corporate users can’t have a cool factor, it just cannot be at the expense of critical capabilities – such as FIPS 140-2. Among their smartphone and tablet peers RIM still has the broadest installed base and deepest industry knowledge in many enterprise markets – especially those that value robust security solutions. No other smartphone vendor has supported these markets as consistently and effectively as RIM has over the years. RIM needs to better leverage this intellectual capital to stay ahead of its competition by delivering solutions designed to meet the real world challenges of mission critical enterprise and government mobility. This includes having best in class security solutions and maintaining critical standards compliance well ahead of its competition - such as is the case with this recent announcement.