Moving from 'mobile-first' to 'thing-first,' Canadian smartphone maker BlackBerry has been transitioning to become a software and services company for years, the path it has taken since its handset empire has been overtaken in the market by Android and iOs devices.
It’s focus this time: providing secure access to the Internet of Things (IoT).
This year, it appears to be moving faster and closer to this new corporate core. In September, it launched BlackBerry Spark, an Enterprise of Things (EoT) platform, which it said is “built for ultra-secure hyperconnectivity from the kernel to the edge.”
It said this platform will allow original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) to “make complex things” such as autonomous vehicles and industrial equipment securely.” The bigger claim, however, is that it would “allow people to use and trust any hyperconnected thing.”
BlackBerry envisions its EoT to work in diverse fields, including healthcare, human resources, transportation, financial services, and government.
Early this month, new partnerships and milestones were announced to push forward with this EoT vision.
First, it launched an operating system for secure medical devices, QNX OS for Medical 2.0, which it said is meant for developing robotic surgical instruments, patient monitoring systems, infusion pumps, blood analysis systems, and other safety-critical products that must pass stringent regulatory approval.
It also announced that its carrier-grade network operation center (NOC) will power a blockchain digital ledger, provided by ONEBIO, to create an ultra-secure global ecosystem for the storing and sharing of medical data.
To leverage these resources in real-industry settings, BlackBerry has partnered with the Mackenzie Innovation Institute (Mi2) to drive innovation in healthcare through research, education, and training.
Richard Tam, Chief Financial Officer of Mi2, said the two organizations will focus on comprehensive security, patient privacy, and intelligent connectivity.
“By developing a deeper understanding and exploring how our ‘smart’ systems operate with BlackBerry Spark, we aim to uncover new ways to connect, protect and intuitively manage smart technologies in a hospital and positively impact high-quality patient care,” Tam said.
Another partnership unveiled was its collaboration with the Melanoma Institute Australia (MIA) to advance skin care research.
Under the agreement, scientists and doctors in different hospitals can use BlackBerry Workspaces to save and share data from medical histories and clinical trials to assess the effectiveness of treatments and interventions.
Ernie White, Chief Information Officer of Melanoma Institute of Australia, said that any new technology must support its clinical journey as it expands its research network.
Managing IoT endpoints may be the core focus now of the Ontario-based BlackBerry, but it has yet to nail solid long-term growth.
For the quarter ending on August 31, 2018, BlackBerry reported revenues of just $214 million, primarily because of the continued fall of its legacy device business. Software and services, however, brought in $197 million, just around 1 percent from a year ago but still a substantial 92 percent of the business.
John Chen, Executive Chairman and CEO of BlackBerry, affirmed in a media statement that the growth was driven by sequential growth in the BlackBerry Technology Solutions and Enterprise Software and Services business.
The outlook moving forward is further software and services revenue growth of between 8 to 10 percent year-over-year.