By Euan Rocha
TORONTO (Reuters) - The number of large business and government clients that have installed or are testing BlackBerry Ltd's mobile device management service has risen roughly 20 percent over the past six months, the embattled smartphone maker said on Tuesday.
BlackBerry, which recently halted plans to sell itself and shook up its management team, said large customers such as Morgan Stanley and Boeing Co are currently running and testing its BlackBerry Enterprise Service 10 (BES).
The product allows such companies to securely manage devices that run on Apple's iOS operating system and Google's Android operating system as well as BlackBerry devices on their internal networks. Apple and Android devices have eclipsed BlackBerry and now dominate the smartphone market.
BlackBerry is counting heavily on the service as it charts a new course under the leadership of recently appointed interim Chief Executive John Chen, who is keen to rebuild the company as more of a niche player focused on the so-called enterprise market of large business and corporate clients.
Chen, who took the reins at BlackBerry last month, issued an open letter to enterprise clients earlier this week, seeking to reassure them that the company is very much alive and here to stay.
The company, in a statement on Tuesday, said the number of enterprise clients that have now installed or are testing its BlackBerry Enterprise Service 10 offering has risen to 30,000 from roughly 25,000 this summer.
"We enable any organization or government agency to manage iOS, Android and BlackBerry devices without compromising security," Stephen Bates, head of the enterprise business unit at BlackBerry, said in a statement.
The company also said it has enhanced its BES 10 product and that it is rolling out an updated 10.2 version to clients.
BlackBerry said in June that its BES product would also manage iOS and Android devices. It hopes that the offering will allow it to sell high-margin services to its large clients even if many, or all, of their employees are using smartphones made by BlackBerry's competitors.
The company hopes that focusing on its profitable enterprise business, which has long been a core strength, will help revive its fortunes after its new line of BlackBerry 10 smartphones failed to claw back market share from iPhone and Android devices.
BlackBerry shares were 5 Canadian cents lower at $6.75 on the Toronto Stock Exchange on Tuesday afternoon in a down day for stock markets.
(Editing by Jeffrey Hodgson; and Peter Galloway)