BlackBerry, Samsung Alliance Could Save BlackBerry in Enterprise

By Wayne Rash  |  Posted 2015-03-02 Print this article Print
BlackBerry Samsung

So why is BlackBerry providing its core technology to Samsung? Ultimately, it has little choice but to partner with some other company. Despite its solid software and its reputation for security, BlackBerry needs customers. It's not getting those customers from its own device sales, and as a result, it must sell its products elsewhere.

This is where the partnership with Samsung comes in. The two companies forged an alliance last year, and BlackBerry started providing security and services, beginning with BlackBerry Enterprise Server (BES) and BlackBerry Messenger. Next, it's moving on to WorkLife and SecuSUITE. This gives the company a chance to stay in business even if the sales of devices with its own brand drop off a cliff.

This was a major concession by the troubled Canadian phone maker, but one that is critically necessary if BlackBerry is to stay relevant in the device market.

While BlackBerry has other business interests, including QNX and its related automobile, aviation and space business as well as its growing Internet of things platform, mobile devices are still core to the company's existence. Partnering with Samsung helps ensure BlackBerry's existence.

But it has to have more marketing allies than just Samsung. Despite the fact that Samsung is the largest mobile device vendor out there, its enterprise business is still only a tiny part of the market.

What this really means is that for BlackBerry to do well, the company has to find another mobile device company that's also widely used in the enterprise—and there's really only one of those, which is Apple.

While Apple's current enterprise direction is firmly aimed at IBM, there's no reason to think that BlackBerry is somehow excluded. The biggest difficulty for the company is to get its products running under iOS and to get Apple and perhaps IBM to be willing participants.

At this point it's not clear whether there's any sort of exclusive arrangement binding BlackBerry and Samsung together. Assuming that there isn't, then partnering with Apple makes a lot of sense for BlackBerry.

Unfortunately for BlackBerry, the choices after Apple are pretty slim. Most of the other major mobile phone makers are from China, and that raises some significant security issues. Would BlackBerry dare to enter into a security partnership with the likes of ZTE or Huawei?

Would doing so endanger its relationship with the U.S. government? While no one has said that the government would dump BlackBerry if the company entered into a partnership with a Chinese device maker, it's also true that no one has said it wouldn't.

This means that while BlackBerry will likely have to partner to stay strong, it has a limited number of potential partners to choose from.


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