BlackBerry software becoming hotbed for smartphone growth in India: Alex Thurber

By: | Published: March 6, 2017 3:48 AM

BlackBerry has moved away from in-house hardware development. The Canadian device maker has shifted to a licensing model for third parties to develop device hardware and distribute and market the BlackBerry brand

Alex Thurber, senior vice-president, Global Device Sales, BlackBerry.

BlackBerry has moved away from in-house hardware development. The Canadian device maker has shifted to a licensing model for third parties to develop device hardware and distribute and market the BlackBerry brand. “There are both strategic and financial benefits to our new approach,” says Alex Thurber, senior vice-president, Global Device Sales, BlackBerry. “We are looking forward to further extending the BlackBerry software experience in India, which is becoming a hotbed for smartphone growth and innovation,” he tells Sudhir Chowdhary in an interaction. Excerpts:

What is going to be main focus of BlackBerry, globally as well as in India?

BlackBerry is no longer about the smartphone, but the smart in the phone, and in cars and containers, medical devices and wearables, consumer appliances and industrial machinery, and ultimately the entire enterprise. Our mission is to secure, connect and mobilise the enterprise. We provide the most secure and comprehensive platform to connect people, devices, processes, systems and organisations for the Enterprise of Things.

As part of this strategy, we have shifted to a licensing model for third parties to develop device hardware and distribute and market the BlackBerry brand. This allows BlackBerry to focus on putting the “smart in the phone” by providing state-of-the-art security and software for devices and enterprises.

We have tens of millions of BlackBerry customers and our licensing strategy with partners TCL, BB Merah Putih and now with Optiemus in India allows us to greatly expand mobility choices for customers all around the world.

How does your recent agreement with Optiemus tie in with your overall strategy?

We have transitioned from internal handset hardware development to leveraging our third party partners to provide that function. It made absolute sense to us to team up with a key partner in India—one of the fastest growing mobile nations and among the most important markets for us globally.

There are both strategic and financial benefits to our new approach. By continuing to bring BlackBerry devices to the Indian market, both enterprise customers and consumers will still enjoy our unmatched, end-to-end value proposition which includes best-in-class capabilities in security. We will

also work with our partners to define a competitive hardware portfolio, leverage their distribution scale and access new channels. Moreover, this strategy allows us to leverage our core strengths to provide secure, connected, and inherently mobile solutions.

Why have you moved away from hardware?

We have moved away from in-house hardware development. We have not moved away from hardware.

In fact, with DTEK50 and DTEK60 which are already available in India, we have proven how we are working with trusted partners to develop and distribute our hardware.

Our licensing strategy will allow us to fully leverage our partners to develop hardware, distribute, and support the BlackBerry handset brand. Our strategy is to put ‘the smart in the phone’, provide state-of-the-art security and device software on a platform relevant to mobile customers, with features appropriate for each local market.

Our first agreement announced with PT BB Merah Putih in Indonesia, our global partnership with TCL Communications and now with Optiemus, means we have licensees to deliver BlackBerry-branded devices to every corner of the globe.

How will your customers benefit from this new strategy?

With this strategy, we are better positioned to focus on our strengths, providing state-of-the-art security and device software, as well as the BlackBerry brand. When you see our logo it means security, from our class-leading enterprise software to devices secured by BlackBerry software.

Our strategy also allows us to expand the mobility choices available to our customers by bringing BlackBerry security and productivity applications to a wider audience across multiple platforms and devices. Customers will continue to enjoy BlackBerry-branded devices and, of course, more will be revealed by our partners when they go to the market.

What is going to be your growth driver, especially in India?

India is a very important market for BlackBerry but it’s also highly competitive. We are confident that our recent licensing deal with Optiemus will provide us with even more scale and ensure a larger mind share in the country.

I would like to add that Optiemus, a leader in telecommunication enterprise and distribution, is well connected and possesses an innate understanding of the local market. It is uniquely positioned to deliver products that are designed and built based on local demand. We are positive that Optiemus’ design and go-to-market plans combined with our secure and productive software will be a great fit for customers in India. This fits in our overarching principle, in the new business model, which can be summed up by “global consistency with local flavour”.

We are looking forward to further extending the BlackBerry software experience in India, which is becoming a hotbed for smartphone growth and innovation.

What can we expect from BlackBerry in terms of new announcement for India?

When people think mobile, they often think of handsets. And with handsets, there continues to be mass concern about the loss of data, intellectual property and more in the business world.

Increasingly, consumers are also concerned—particularly with regards to photographs and other personal information.

The new reality is that mobility is far beyond just a handset or smartphone conversation. Market demand for security is shifting from the network of computers to the network of endpoints. BlackBerry is uniquely qualified to address this need because of our ongoing innovation in securing and managing mobile devices—and this is why transition to software is so powerful to our entire customer base.

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Software is the new BlackBerry – all the future announcements you will see from us in India will be fully focused on how we are securing and enabling businesses and consumers—whatever device they are using and wherever they are using it.

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