BlackBerry Eying Deeper Security Presence With Turnaround “Complete”

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BlackBerry APJ Vice President Paul Crighton, who took over the reins of the local operation late in 2015, said the results show that BlackBerry’s security software sales are superseding hardware sales for the first time.

Crighton told CSO Australia, “The turnaround is now complete… We’re now a global leader in the security software business, and we happen to sell devices.”

Acquisitions helped to build trust

BlackBerry’s turnaround has come after a number of high-profile security acquisitions in recent years which include the acquisition of mobile alerting vendor AtHoc to complement BBM, the purchase of mobile device management (MDM) giant Good Technology for $425 million, and the purchase of secure document exchange specialist WatchDox to strengthen data-protection credentials.

According to Crighton, these acquisitions give the Canadian firm a more attractive proposition for consumers who already trust the security of BBM and the strength of BlackBerry’s own MDM offering. Crighton explained that when they speak with the customers, they all say the same thing.

“They say the biggest problem they have is securing their critical information – their customer information, contract information, their business roadmaps. It’s all well and good securing it inside the firewall, but what happens when it gets out – when it’s in email or in the wild in general?” Crighton told CSO Australia.

With the help of embedded security that gives control over the documents accessed based on time of day, limited lifespan, location and other criteria, WatchDox enables restrictions on access to the documents. These tools are heavily adopted by enterprise customers which are leveraging BlackBerry’s software development kit (SDK) to link their apps into that secure ecosystem.

Customized solutions are BlackBerry’s strength

For CEO John Chen, who has slashed about $100 million from BlackBerry’s costs, the turnaround was a major part of his restructuring efforts. Chen could not, however, keep revenues from declining 39% y-o-y in the most recent full-year results announcement. But in the first quarter of fiscal 2017, software revenues grew to $166 million, and during fiscal 2016, the Canadian firm reported that it had won over 10,000 enterprise customers.

Crighton said the challenge for the security companies such as BlackBerry is going to be to “stay ahead of the bad guys. One of the strengths we have is the ability to have lots of different solutions depending on what the customer’s posture is, and that doesn’t have to be on-premises only.”

On Monday, BlackBerry shares closed up 0.40% at $7.60. Year to date, the stock is down almost 19%, while in  the last year, it is up more than 3%.

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