Late last week, BlackBerry announced its intention to move beyond its initial licensing plans in the mobile sphere, seeking to expand into tablets, wearables, medical devices, appliances, point-of-sale terminals and other smartphones. The announcement arrived via BlackBerry’s newsroom blog and its outlined expansion into other areas of technology (if only in terms of licensing) has at least one promising implication both for the company and for the users of devices in those technological niches.
BlackBerry has built itself a reputation for reliability and security over the years and that reputation is where CEO and Executive Chairman, John Chen, believes the company can make the most impact. According to Chen, the actualization of the inherent potential for connected devices to improve lives depends heavily on “privacy and security” being “embedded in every end point from the start.” Chen provides the examples of medical monitoring devices that need to protect the health data and personal data that is both stored on the device itself and on external servers. Chen continues on to include that such devices often need to connect to a larger network or healthcare system, without being hacked, and that “BlackBerry Secure helps solve this Triple Threat.” That implication carries over to other devices as well, bearing in mind the current security and privacy climates. Point-of-sale terminals, smart home appliances and other connected home devices, wearables such as smartwatches and fitness trackers, and more can all be equated as carrying a similar level of risk. BlackBerry will undoubtedly have stringent policies pertaining to stipulations about how its licensed software can be used, which means that partners in those licensing efforts will likely carry more than just the name and backing of the company.
In addition to being a practical way to provide a meaningful benefit to customers, the move just makes good business sense. There have been a number of news stories about privacy concerns lately, which may be at least one determining factor in BlackBerry’s decision to expand on its initial licensing deals now. More specifically, recent governmental votes regarding FCC privacy rules and a recent push by Verizon to include a somewhat controversial application across all of the carrier’s devices – both examples provide good reasons for a company with BlackBerry’s unique reputation to step forward.