While BlackBerry has traditionally been a favorite among business users, Android and iOS have made significant inroads into the enterprise area in the past few years -- bad news for a company that's already been struggling this year. The BBM maker is still in the game, though, having just launched a product aimed at its base of government, insurance and banking customers: BBM Protected, the first piece of its eBBM suite. The "e," of course, stands for enterprise, and the BBM Protected app lets BlackBerry owners instant-message with several layers of encryption to protect sensitive data.

Originally announced earlier this year, BBM Protected allows users to communicate securely with colleagues and chat with friends and family from the same app. As BlackBerry's customers require, the protection is pretty heavy-duty: each message has its own encryption key, making it very difficult for anyone to decode an entire conversation. Protected chats aren't limited to users within a single company, either; all BBM Protected users can exchange messages, even if they're not on the same BlackBerry Enterprise service. Currently, BBM Protected is available on smartphones running BBOS 6.0 or later as well as handsets running BlackBerry 10 in Regulated mode. Expect versions tailored for Android and iOS -- as well as one for BlackBerry 10 using BlackBerry Balance -- to arrive later this year.

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BlackBerry launches BBM Protected, bringing secure IM to the enterprise crowd