When word got out a couple years ago, that the once might tech giant BlackBerry was looking to make a comeback there were some in the industry who were eager to see what the Waterloo, Ontario based company would bring to the table. On the other hand, there were some who were convinced that the company's swan song has already sounded and that BlackBerry should just divest, and throw in the towel. But, BlackBerry’s senior management has other plans. Indeed, they are positioning the company to compete with the current superpowers in the mobile app world.
On the outset, it looks like the skeptics were right. The company’s device sales represent less than fifty percent of their total revenue, and the sad truth is that this figure is decreasing. However, it seems that success is really in the mind of BlackBerry’s CEO and has adjusted the company’s direction and tactics accordingly. BlackBerry performed a pivot and is now setting their sights on the software and licensing segments of the mobile technology industry and mobile app development.
Recently, the company has made it known that they will be offering a Software Development Kit (SDK). It will be a cloud-based platform which makes it convenient for developers, but BlackBerry believes that the investment is worth it. According to BlackBerry, their BBM Enterprise SDK will represent a new revenue stream for the company. Even during the company’s darkest days, where many were speculating its demise, the company was still being praised for the security provided by their messaging and file sharing tools. And, it is these tools that BlackBerry is dangling in front of developers and mobile app development companies with the release of their SDK.
With the SDK, mobile app developers will be equipped to integrate chat apps, secure file sharing, video and voice communication and push notifications to mobile devices. In a nutshell, BlackBerry has gifted mobile app development companies with the ability to create mobile apps or modify existing ones that will not only run natively on BlackBerry devices, but also meet the needs and stringent regulations often found in enterprise spaces. The company’s unwillingness to compromise on security is perhaps what will be most appealing for app developers, not necessarily from the creative aspect, but it holds the possibility of being exposed to new markets and clientele.
Blackberry’s reputation for secure mobility is not only great marketing, but it is also well recognized within the industry. So much so that enterprise level companies continued using BlackBerry devices, BBM and BES even when it was all falling apart for the mobile tech company. Take the healthcare industry for example which is usually a difficult segment to penetrate for mobile app developers due to the numerous regulations, which carry hefty legal ramifications. Hospitals, insurance companies and medical facilities trust BlackBerry, not because their devices are futuristic or sexy. No, it is because BlackBerry security standards comply with HIPAA. The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act makes sure that businesses and companies that deal with patient information, from social security numbers to medical diagnoses are guarding them and treating them safely on every healthcare mobile app. The layers of encryption that BlackBerry utilizes, along with its proprietary technology, makes it nearly impossible to breach BlackBerry’s records.
With this in mind, app developers can use the SDK to fashion an app or a program so that a doctor can converse with their colleague in real time in a faraway place without having to risk the patient’s personal data. Hospitals, clinics and medical facilities can facilitate greater amounts of collaboration while complying with HIPAA regulations, and BlackBerry gains a significant foot hold into the medical sector. Government agencies would also greatly benefit from the tinkerings of developers using the SDK. Due to the sensitive, and at times confidential, nature of the information being handled by these entities, it is plain to see why many of them would see the BlackBerry as a suitable and effective tool. Typical interoffice messaging apps or software can be easily be replaced by solutions bearing the BlackBerry name, as it will essentially perform in the same manner, except that BlackBerry is also able to apply its stringent security protocols on those messages, whether they be written, on audio or video.
The SDK marks BlackBerry’s entrance into the CPaaS market, the Communication Platform as a Service. Something that the BlackBerry of 10 years ago would have never dreamed. This SDK also comprises Amazon and Android apps. And they are only able to do so because they can dangle the security features that made them famous in front of the mobile app developer’s eyes. They do also put the onus on the app development company as well. For example, when a piece of information is secured and encrypted the keys are not kept by BlackBerry, but by the developers themselves.
The main takeaway is that BlackBerry is back, but whether or not they survive, or meet success all depends on what they are willing to offer mobile app developers and their customers. BlackBerry sees a potential significant revenue stream in the release of the SDK (one that it hopes will plug the financial holes that are cropping up due to the declining hardware sales). The SDK release is a big and important step in creating a more well balanced company. Above all, this new BlackBerry has shown that it is willing to compromise and pivot when needed to ensure its existence. By implementing a technique used by many a modern and large tech company, BlackBerry is utilizing previously unknown resources to help push their product to new directions.