The BlackBerry of things
With its mobile phone business in the toilet, BlackBerry is looking for other avenues and is betting big on all your stuff getting connected to the Internet.
The smartphone arena is littered with the bodies of failed competitors who bet big on t he mobile trend and were decimated by Apple and Google. One of the battered, limbless bodies left in the dust is the oncemighty BlackBerry, now fighting for its life on borrowed time and money. The smartphone fight is all but over – although there might yet be hope for BlackBerry. The company also has an asset that makes it perfectly positioned to become the platform that connects all your stuff beyond phones and tablets. Think coffee tables and fridges. The Internet of things is a very real wave to watch. Ericsson predicts that by 2020 there will be 50bn Internet connections across the globe and most of these will be from things like cars, lightbulbs and vending machines – the other stuff that is rapidly making its way online.
The man now at the helm of BlackBerry, CEO John Chen, has wasted no time in refocusing the company. He is doing the right thing by directing his attention to the core strengths BlackBer- ry has: Enterprise services. Secure messaging. And a military-grade operating system that is perfect for the Internet of things, with few competitors to speak of. BlackBerry acquired the QNX operating system in 2010 to form the basis of its next-generation device platform. QNX has a history as the operating system used to power casino machines, the US Army’s Crusher tanks and Nasa’s Neptec Laser Camera System. It’s a hardcore operating system for hardcore machines and BlackBerry bought it, in part, because it’s about the most robust piece of software in existence.
Announcing the formation of a new business unit that will drive QNX as a platform for the Internet of things, Chen said that QNX is essentially returning to its roots.
“Consider this: while there are 5bn handsets in the world that we want to connect to, there may be 500bn devices out there that present a tremendous opportunity for an organisation with the experience and track record of QNX,” said Chen.
“This business is being established alongside our existing organisations that serve the embedded market.”
This would be a very lucrative market, should BlackBerry crack it, and it’s already halfway there. Technology analysis firm Gartner predicts that by 2020 the Internet of things market will exceed incremental revenue of $300bn with a resulting $1.9tr in global economic value add through sales into diverse end markets. BlackBerry stock is virtually free at the moment and the gamblers out there might see this as a potential long pass that could result in big things if BlackBerry snatches a decent slice of the next big trend.