Blackberry Seeks Out Cross-Platform Partnerships

by Matt Klassen on March 2, 2015

As the annual Mobile World Congress officially kicks off in Barcelona today the news out of Blackberry is distinctly less flashy than what one might expect at an event defined by cutting edge technology, but perhaps that’s to be expected from a company quickly moving away from the flashier hardware side of the mobile industry.

Under the leadership of CEO John Chen Blackberry has undergone a metamorphosis over the last few years, transitioning away from a company focused on producing competitive mobile hardware towards a software and data management firm; Chen realizing that his company’s greatest assets were not its phones, but what the phones were able to deliver in terms of functionality, interface, and, most of all, security.

To that end the news out of Blackberry this week had nothing to do with its square Passport smartphone or its retro Blackberry Classic throwback smartphone, but about the companies plans to further infiltrate other mobile operating systems. On Sunday the company announced the creation of “BlackBerry Enterprise Suite,” a collection of apps that will bring its Hub messaging portal, virtual keyboard, and security, among other things, aimed at bolstering the enterprise credibility of iOS, Android, and even Windows mobile platforms.

There was a time not so long ago that Blackberry existed as an island unto itself in the mobile industry, a company that refused to partner, to share, or to compromise. It had something the enterprise and consumer markets both desired, unsurpassed security coupled with functional communication software, and it thought its days in the sun would never end.

Of course we all know what happened next, the company was swallowed up by the BYOD movement, one that saw more popular devices deployed in the enterprise sector, and the interest in security and Blackberry’s BBM and other apps saw a precipitous decline.

So it’s really no surprise to hear that Blackberry is looking to continue its transition towards a software and data management company, it’s the best way to redeploy the assets it still has, and it could attract significant enterprise attention given the fact that it can be deployed on the devices that people are actually using at work.

“As hardware shrinks, there’s a bigger opportunity to make software and package it cross platform,” Chen said on a media conference call. “So our serviceable market won’t just be on BlackBerry, but other devices.”

“I look at all the assets we have, from the user interface to security — there was really a hidden gem to build a good book of business,” he added.

It is this latent attractiveness of Blackberry’s suite of business oriented apps that has other once mobile rivals interested in partnering with Blackberry as well. The latest example of Blackberry’s cross-platform integration has come with Samsung, who has partnered with Blackberry to bolster its own enterprise-oriented Knox security platform.

As CNET’s Roger Cheng explains, “BlackBerry said on Sunday that it would bring two new business-class services to Knox: WorkLife, a feature that allows businesses to split their employees’ Samsung phones into separate work and personal identities through a “virtual SIM,” making it easier to bill for work use; and the SecuSUITE encryption software that Blackberry gained from its acquisition of Secusmart last year.”

In fact, the cross-platform partnership between Samsung and Blackberry is not only a new opportunity for the struggling Waterloo company, but the beginning of a paradigm shift across the entire industry, as companies realize that more can be done in meeting the needs of the enterprise sector through cooperation than through competition.

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Written by: Matt Klassen. www.digitcom.ca. Follow TheTelecomBlog.com by: RSS, Twitter, Facebook, or YouTube.

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