BlackBerry. The fightback continues with the release of the BBM Enterprise SDK

Image: Clique
Richard N. Block

Opening up secure lines of communication for sensitive, confidential applications

As we and others have reported, BlackBerry is undergoing fundamental change. No, we’re not talking about its addict-in-chief leaving to spend more time with his wakeboard.

No, even more basic: BlackBerry has gone from closed-ecosystem hardware manufacturer to licensing-partnership-happy software-creator. They’ve licensed the BlackBerry name to the company behind Alcatel, which had already slapped the BlackBerry name on a couple of rebadged smartphones, to manufacture a new handset, true to the spirit of the classics. reports:

After making the switch from hardware to software, Blackberry is taking its first major step in the enterprise department. The company has today announced the launch of BBM Enterprise SDK to provide developers with its ultra-secure messaging and file sharing technology. This software kit will enable them to integrate BBM’s services into third party apps, starting this month.

The Canadian hardware maker, once known for its smartphone innovations, now plans to provide developers with the capabilities to build secure messaging, video or voice calling, encrypted file sharing, and other necessary communication features into other third-party apps. It is also not restricted to 1-on-1 or group messaging or calling features.

The article links to the BlackBerry official press release, but, embarrassingly perhaps, Blackberry’s news portal looks to be running low on juice because the link wasn’t working properly for us at the time of publication. The full announcement can, however, be found here.

BlackBerry is touting the SDK’s possibilities for opening up bomb-proof lines of communication for sensitive, confidential applications. The Financial Post writes:

The subscription-based service could enable, for example, emergency room surgeons to send secure pictures of a patient to an expert in the field from an existing communications app, BlackBerry executives explained. They pitched the product as the most secure on the market at a time when businesses are increasingly worried about the security of communications.

The company is emphasizing “secure” in its rollout announcements, interviews, and the like. That’s how it sees the SDK as being different from the rest of the offering currently out there. “”We don’t think current providers are meeting the needs of the enterprise” regarding security, said COO Marty Beard on a call with Bloomberg. “The market needs this.”

The SDK appears aimed squarely at Twilio. Although Twilio is ISO 27001-certified as meeting information security standards, the Financial Post continues:

“The current market offerings just don’t provide the level of security and encryption for which BlackBerry is known and which we provide,” Beard said. BlackBerry says it has more security certifications than any other mobile vendor with more than 80.

To bolster this claim, the article says, BlackBerry stated it will not hold the encryption keys to software created with the SDK, so it will not be able to turn over sensitive data to authorities even if it was willing to.

But, can BlackBerry turn a profit?

The Post writes that, even though the reinvention from hardware maker to software provider is reinvigorating the BlackBerry name, profits remain elusive. The decline in hardware revenue hasn’t been offset by software revenue to this point, but CEO John Chen said the company will be profitable in 2017, said the publication.

Indeed, Bloomberg points out that in fiscal 2017, software revenue is set to grow 30%, and the company posted a profit in the third quarter.

BlackBerry now makes more than half its money from software, rather than hardware. CEO Chen told Bloomberg in December that as far as he’s concerned, the company isn’t in a turnaround any longer, but is set to move ahead and make money.

If the company’s recent bets predict the success of its current one, this SDK will help drive continued success into the new fiscal year.

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