I realise that the title of this post is like click bait to most other tech blogs and journalists, but we here at UTB know that this is the inevitable truth. I have read an article today which just had me nodding my head and saying ‘Yeah! You know what? They’ve done it. It’s over.’
What have they done? What’s over? Let me take this a step at a time.
Firstly, I was pointed an article written by iTWire.com’s Ray Shaw. Its title is BlackBerry Priv is only a small part of what it does. In it Ray shows how over the last two years that BlackBerry has transitioned from a handset maker to a ‘software company that just happens to make devices’, to quote BlackBerry Australia General Manager Matt Ball (and myself I think from an early Blogcast). The five key acquisitions that Ray points to to prove this are: Secusmart (July 2014) a company which secures encrypted voice and text messaging, Movirtu (Sept 2014) a company which secures virtual identity for mobile operators and allows multiple numbers on a single device, WatchDox (April 2015) a company which secures file sync and share with collaberation and advanced DRM, AtHoc (July 2015) a company which secures network alerting, crisis communication and response, and finally Good (October 2015) a company which secures mobile device management and enterprise app ecosystems. What these acquisitions along with the likes of QNX, BES12, IoT platform, existing encryption protocols, cross platform software infrastructure and multiple device solutions (phones, tablets, computers, wearables and IoT devices) bring to BlackBerry is an impenetrable fortress of revenue arena’s.
Secondly, I was once again trolling through the trash of articles, forums and comments to find the usual arguments about BB10 being dead because BlackBerry have gone Android or BlackBerry is getting out of the handset business because the Priv isn’t selling well (based on no actual sales data). The one I’m always fascinated with is that apparently Chen doesn’t have a clue because he has no direction regarding the handset business and doesn’t know the numbers.
A few years back we were all taken with the ‘Prosumer’ moniker. The BlackBerry user is better than just a consumer, he’s a ‘Prosumer’ because he’s about getting things done. This was at a time when we all believed that BlackBerry must remain a handset business. As any good journalist will (or should I put should) know, the most important question in any article is Why? Why is this here? Does it mean anything. So I ask the same question about the need to remain in the handset business. Why? I ask the same question about the need for BB10. Why? I’m not saying I think BlackBerry should get out of those things and I’m definitely not saying that those things aren’t part of why I still believe in this company. If we look however at the strategy as a whole, what BlackBerry can now do is to look upon these apparent ‘deal breakers’ as peripherals which have little to no bearing on their growth and development as a company. One of the questions often asked at earnings calls is why BlackBerry can continue to reduce their estimates of what the handset division needs to sell in order to be viable. The reduction does have something to do with increased average sales cost of individual devices. It also has to do with the fact that the handset division is just a peripheral to the core business of BlackBerry. If we stop thinking of BlackBerry as a mobile device maker and start thinking of them as a software solutions company, then we can see that BB10, Handsets and even BBM are just cogs in the wheel. If a cog isn’t able to keep the machine moving, you replace it. The focus is on the functionality of the machine and not the life and death of its individual parts. Those parts are important, but they can be replaced in order to keep the machine moving.
Do I think BlackBerry are giving up on BB10? No I don’t. Do I think BlackBerry are giving up on Handsets? No I don’t. Do I think BBM is dead and BlackBerry will force us on to less secure messaging platforms? No I don’t. Is that what I’m making a call on? No it isn’t.
I’m saying that BlackBerry the company which provides the solutions we all love will be here in 2017, 2018, 2019 and beyond. I think that mobile phones running BB10 will be an integral part of that, but I’m not making a call on that.
So what have they done? What is over? The speculation that BlackBerry is dead, the thoughts that BlackBerry as a company will cease to exist. BlackBerry have achieved what they set out to achieve. The company is safe and we will be here reporting on the positive solutions it continues to provide along with it. The experts of security have secured themselves.
Remember. Chap called it, and he called it on UTB.