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.

Finweek English Edition - - TECHNOLOGY - Si­mon Din­gle

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.

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