BlackBerry is buying mobile security company Good Technology in a $425 million deal that will bolster BlackBerry’s enterprise security offerings and add to its expertise in the growing security market.
The deal, which was announced Sept. 4 by the companies, comes as BlackBerry has been continuing to make significant moves in software acquisitions for some time as its mobile device sales have fallen in a market crowded with Apple iPhones, Samsung Galaxy devices and others.
“By acquiring Good, BlackBerry will better solve one of the biggest struggles for CIOs today, especially those in regulated industries: securely managing devices across any platform,” John Chen, the CEO and executive chairman of BlackBerry, said in a statement. “By providing even stronger cross-platform capabilities our customers will not have to compromise on their choice of operating systems, deployment models or any level of privacy and security. Like BlackBerry, Good has a very strong presence in enterprises and governments around the world and, with this transaction, BlackBerry will enhance its sales and distribution capabilities and further grow its enterprise software revenue stream.”
The acquisition will bring Good’s complementary capabilities and technologies to BlackBerry, including secure applications and containerization that protects end user privacy, according to the companies. At the same time, Good’s products will be integrated with BlackBerry’s enterprise portfolio and global network to help protect customers.
“Enterprise customers today demand stringent security and the most flexible platform across all mobility strategies,” Christy Wyatt, chairman and CEO of Good, said in a statement. “We are excited to join BlackBerry, where together we will be the most comprehensive mobile platform in the market. Our trusted Good solutions will also help BlackBerry to accelerate its Internet of Things platform for managing endpoints beyond mobile devices.”
The acquisition is expected to be completed toward the end of the BlackBerry’s 2016 fiscal third quarter and is subject to customary closing conditions, including regulatory approvals.
Several analysts told eWEEK that the Good acquisition is a logical move for BlackBerry.
“I think it’s a great idea,” said Maribel Lopez, principal analyst of Lopez Research. “Good didn’t have a lot of options [because of stalled IPO and funding efforts], and BlackBerry wants to secure itself as a security company for the enterprise, regulated industries and for the Internet of things. Theoretically, that’s one of the reasons BlackBerry bought them—because they had a good container strategy.”
Jan Dawson, the chief analyst of Jackdaw Research, agreed. “Buying into software is absolutely a way for BlackBerry to accelerate its move away from hardware,” Dawson told eWEEK in an email reply to an inquiry. “BlackBerry has also struggled to prove its credentials in managing non-BlackBerry devices, so this should help significantly with that positioning. It’s an expensive move, to be sure, but probably a necessary one if BlackBerry is really to change its identity and set itself up for longer term growth.”
Another analyst, Avi Greengart, who covers consumer platforms and devices for Current Analysis, said that while the enterprise mobility software business is growing rapidly, it is still quite small. “Buying Good gives BlackBerry scale and takes a competitor off the table,” wrote Greengart in an email reply. “On the downside, it will take some time to merge the two product lines. BlackBerry has been transitioning away from hardware for some time and would probably get out of that business entirely if it didn’t desperately need the revenue that phones bring. Those revenues are dropping as sales volumes fall, but at least by focusing solely on the enterprise market, BlackBerry can build some margin into its device sales.”
BlackBerry Buying Good Technology to Grow Mobile Security Expertise
Patrick Moorhead, principal analyst of Moor Insights & Strategy, said that this acquisition makes sense, noting that he hasn’t liked much of anything that BlackBerry has done in the last five years. “This is the direction that they should have been going more quickly in terms of realizing that their unique value-add is in software services and security for mobility. The challenge, though, is that they do this at a point of weakness as opposed to strength had they done this four or five years ago.”
In July, BlackBerry acquired AtHoc, which provides secure, networked crisis communications for a wide range of clients including governments, the military, enterprises and first responders. The price of that deal was not disclosed.
The AtHoc acquisition followed BlackBerry’s purchase of secure enterprise file-sync-and-share vendor WatchDox in April; its purchase of Movirtu, a U.K. startup whose specialized software enables a smartphone to have more than one phone number, in September 2014; and its July 2014 acquisition of Secusmart, a German software company that specializes in anti-eavesdropping and high-security voice and data products and services.
Over the last several years, BlackBerry has been moving to transform itself into an enterprise security software company from its former role as a hardware maker for business users. The company’s fall from dominating the enterprise smartphone market has been swift and stunning. In early 2006, before the first iPhones appeared from Apple, half of all smartphones sold were BlackBerry models. By 2009, though, its share of the global smartphone market was down to 20 percent. The company continues to face growing competition from Apple, Samsung, Google and others.
In the first quarter of 2015, BlackBerry’s worldwide market share fell to 0.3 percent, compared with 78 percent for Android and 18.3 percent for iOS, according to a recent report from IDC. Windows Phone has a 2.7 percent market share.
In August, reports circulated that BlackBerry will launch its first Android smartphone later this year, as the company continues to fight to gain market share and new customers in a global smartphone market that Apple and Samsung dominate. Dubbed Venice, the smartphone will run an unknown version of Android and will be available from the big four mobile carriers in the United States—Verizon, AT&T, Sprint and T-Mobile—sometime in November, according to a previous eWEEK report.