Is BlackBerry’s transition into cybersecurity a good strategy?


    Not so long ago, BlackBerry was considered the most popular smartphone in the U.S market. Comscore research shows that more than half of the smartphone subscribers in the U.S as at 2010 were BlackBerry users.

    Some of the distinguishing selling points of the BlackBerry was its advanced cybersecurity feature and its touchable keyboard. This made it a highly sought after product by state governments and businesses.

    The BlackBerry dominion eventually faded as manufacturers applied more advanced technology to their products. As the BlackBerry lost its unique appeal to users, it evolved unto other ventures but leveraged on its competitive edge along with its transition.

    According to the CEO of BlackBerry John Chen, the transition BlackBerry went through was as a result of the realization that the company could no longer notch the numbers needed to compete favourably. According to Chen: “After a few years, we realized that we would never get the volume up — and it’s a volume game and so we made that pivotal shift to a software-only company and focus on security and cyber and things of that sort.”

    Basically, BlackBerry stopped manufacturing phones but remained active in that same industry diversifying. The transition birthed two core business units according to Charles Eagen, the chief technology officer of BlackBerry. In his words: “BlackBerry has two main business units, a cybersecurity business unit and an IoT business unit within the cybersecurity business unit.”

    The cybersecurity unit applies to security required in the cyberspace such as for mobile banking websites and smartphones applications which is already familiar territory for the company. The Internet of Things unit is majorly concerned with communication of technology in and around connected and autonomous vehicles.

    Blackberry’s CEO boasts that the BlackBerry IoT unit has made it the major player in terms of the embedded software in most of the cars. Based on the company’s estimates, about 215 million cars and counting are currently running on Blackberry’s technology even as this unit of the company continues to expand.

    The auto software industry is huge already and protections have been made that by the next decade the industry will likely triple in size. Blackberry’s revenue from cybersecurity alone in 2021 was at least $500 million. The cybersecurity industry is however a highly competitive market and BlackBerry is not the only one offering its type of service.

    The company maintains an Autonomous Vehicle Innovation Centre AVIC which is located at the BlackBerry QNX headquarters in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada.

    As originally reported in (