BlackBerry Plans Comeback Based on Security, Enterprise Services

NEWS ANALYSIS: Battered device maker BlackBerry plans to get closer to its core customers while building strengths that range far beyond mobile devices into security and the Internet of things.

BlackBerry Comeback Plans

BlackBerry's plans for the future include finding ways to grow closer to its existing customers and to build on the company's existing strengths, according to a senior BlackBerry executive.

In a wide-ranging interview, John Sims, president of Global Enterprise Solutions for BlackBerry, told eWEEK that the company's strength and its future growth depend on four pillars.

He said those pillars include its device business, including its existing BlackBerry devices and a series of new devices to come. The company's QNX operating system, which is at the core of BlackBerry 10 devices as well as in a vast collection of devices ranging from automobiles to medical equipment, will for the second pillar, he said.

BlackBerry Messenger, the secure, encrypted, text messaging system that already drives would-be hackers nuts, is going to become a more important part of the company's operations when the messenger supports Windows Phone, iOS and Android devices. Sims said that BBM will be enhanced and become even more secure, and that it will support logging to meet compliance requirements.

The fourth pillar is BlackBerry Enterprise Service, the company's device security, application and content management platform, which Sims said will be enhanced to support the Internet of things and a wide range of other devices. BES will be strengthened to support stronger security and will build on existing work with government users to deliver a higher level of security than BlackBerry already supports for its corporate customers.

Part of the plan for BlackBerry's growth is to open up the company's APIs so that customers can build applications that work with BES and other BlackBerry products. The company is also working on a set of voluntary standards for communications with devices using BES. Sims noted that devices used in a variety of industries already run QNX, so incorporating BES as a management solution would be fairly straightforward.

If all of these plans sound ambitious, it's important to remember that BlackBerry is nowhere as weak as some who would quote current smartphone sales figures might have you believe. According to a recent Gartner study, BlackBerry still has about 26 percent of the enterprise market. In addition, BlackBerry is still the device of choice in markets where compliance and security are required.

Sims also noted that BlackBerry is the only device maker that fully supports Gartner's COPE (corporate owned personally enabled) model for the mobile workforce. He said that the company plans to provide more capabilities to corporate users, including such things as secure voice communications.

"This is important in the energy industry," Sims said, noting that exploration teams sometimes venture into areas that aren't especially friendly. "You need something more secure than GSM," he said.

Sims also said that BlackBerry is working on a number of new devices aimed specifically at growth markets. The BlackBerry Z3, which was just introduced into Indonesia is one of those. It's a mid-priced smartphone that runs BBOS10 and currently supports 3G communications.

Wayne Rash

Wayne Rash

Wayne Rash is a freelance writer and editor with a 35 year history covering technology. He’s a frequent speaker on business, technology issues and enterprise computing. He covers Washington and...