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BlackBerry bolsters IoT security consultancy focus, says it’s still committed to hardware

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BlackBerry seems to be finally conceding to the fact that it’s no longer the smartphone powerhouse it once was, as it continues to try to solidify its position as a company focused on enterprise security services.

The company announced plans this week to launch new cybersecurity services, further expanding its already established security portfolio by offering enterprise consulting.

Despite the obvious but gradual move at the Kitchener-Waterloo-based company toward software and security focused services, at a recent roundtable interview at Mobile World Congress 2016, Marty Beard, BlackBerry’s COO, David Kleidermacher, the company’s chief security officer, as well as several other executives, emphasized that BlackBerry still has significant interest in hardware. 

When asked about the possibility of BlackBerry further shifting its focus away from hardware should the company’s new security consulting services prove successful, Beard steadfast denied the prospect.

“No, I think if you look at it, we have hardware solutions, we have software solutions and we have services. We’re bringing all that together based on what we talked about during this meeting…” said Beard. “It’s not a preference so much, it’s a demand from our customer base and an opportunity to grow revenue.”

As BlackBerry continues to struggle to sell hardware, the company believes the growing Internet of Things (IoT) industry, which increasingly includes cars, as well as connected home products, is a potential area of growth.

In order to bolster its already established cybersecurity practises, BlackBerry announced the acquisition of U.K.-based company Encryption Unlimited, which the company says brings needed cybersecurity consulting experience to the organization. Terms of the deal, which reportedly closed on February 19th, were not revealed.

“We’re increasingly an enterprise and software company… our goal is to provide a cross-platform security solution for all devices: Android, iOS and BB10,” said Beard during the presentation.

During the close-door roundtable discussion, Kleidermacher emphasized that BlackBerry still holds approximately 70 government certifications and approvals, a number that is the highest among any mobile phone manufacturer.

While BlackBerry is losing ground in the enterprise market thanks to Samsung’s Knox Android security software, as well as Apple increasingly competitive iOS security offerings, the company continues to maintain a significant hold on governments and organizations that require stringent regulatory compliance.

Hitting home this point, Kleidermacher emphasized that 10 out of 10 of the largest global banks and law firms, the top five largest healthcare organizations, investment services, oil and gas companies, and even 16 of the G20 governments, continue to utilize BlackBerry’s security platform offerings.

The company’s regulatory ties are still linked to its own smartphones, but given BlackBerry’s recent efforts to bring BES12 to Android with the Priv, and with future plans to expand its security offerings to Apple’s iOS platform, the company says it wants to be able to work with companies and governments regardless of which handset they utilize.

According to BlackBerry, estimates indicate that the global security business will grow from $16.5 billion USD annually in 2016 to a forecasted growth of $23 billion USD annually by 2019. To date, BlackBerry has made 29 acquisitions, with five over the last 15 months being security firms, including Good Technology for $425 million USD, as well as Watchdox in 2015, at a price of approximately $150 million USD.

BlackBerry did not discuss devices during the event as the company says it’s in its “quiet period” following CES and the release of upcoming financial reports.

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