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BlackBerry Remains Convinced Software Is Its Future

Michael Moore joined TechWeek Europe in January 2014 as a trainee before graduating to Reporter later that year. He covers a wide range of topics, including but not limited to mobile devices, wearable tech, the Internet of Things, and financial technology.

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Carl Wiese tells TechWeekEurope why BlackBerry’s software portfolio means it isn’t going away anytime soon – even if hardware is still a problem

 

BlackBerry is convinced it’s on the right track as it transitions away from the smartphones that made it a household name, into a services and software company.

This is despite more layoffs, an apparent abandonment of the high-end smartphone market and results that missed expectations.

All change?

blackberry“You look at what we had to sell a year ago compared to today – it’s like night and day,” Carl Wiese, BlackBerry global vice president of sales, tells TechWeekEurope.

“We’re looking to fundamentally change what people do with mobile, and we want people to run their business on mobile – and that takes time, not only for us to communicate with the marketplace and build the capabilities, but it takes time to transform inside the customer we sell to as well.”

Wiese is naturally positive about his company’s performance. Despite the doom and gloom surrounding hardware, software and services sales doubled in the most recent quarter and now account for a third of BlackBerry’s income.

“Nobody thought there was a chance we could do it,” he says, noting that many commentators believed BlackBerry CEO John Chen had been too ambitous in setting targets for the company’s new strategy.

A large part of this turnaround has been down to some significant acquisitions from BlackBerry, namely the purchases of Good Technology and AtHoc. Good, with its iOS focus, has been a particular boon, as Wiese says the deal got BlackBerry into a place it hadn’t been before.

He says that Government, healthcare and legal industries remain major customer bases for the company, along with its traditional strong hold on the financial services market.

“Our opportunity, and challenge, is to get out of the regulated markets because we’ve been so focused on doing such a good job there…there’s no reason why we can’t, it’s just never been a super big focus for us,” he claimed.

Wiese also referenced recent figures that say BlackBerry has between 20 to 25 percent global market share in terms of software, making it number one in the market and two times its nearest competitor.

“Turnarounds and transformations are hard, and they take time – I don’t think there’s a magic bullet, unless you’ve got the iPhone,” he said.

More to come

Carl WieseMuch has been made of BlackBerry’s move to Android in recent months, with the company’s Priv device, released last year, gaining critical approval but so far seeing poor sales.

However the company is set to continue its relationship with Google’s OS, with several mid-market devices arriving in the coming months.

This move will not affect BlackBerry’s software strategy though, Wiese said, as the company has a complete roadmap for its BB10 and BlackBerry Enterprise Service (BES).

“There’s multiple releases of software in the pipeline, attacking productivity, security, and privacy,” Wiese says, noting that BlackBerry is “still in the market” for BB10, and is committed to at least two more releases of the software.

BES is very much still part of BlackBerry’s future too

“It’s at the heart of what we do,”, he said, stating BES 12.5 will arrive in May, with planned upgrades planned up to BES 14, which he says he arrive in 2017.

“[BlackBerry] is built on BES – nobody should have any questions about our investment in BES, it’s fundamental to what we’re doing.”

The message from BlackBerry is one of defiance. Even if it is under no illusions about the difficulty of transitioning from the de facto market standard in smartphones into an enterprise mobility software giant.

“For us, we’ve got to continue to be more methodical, take more business down, more opportunities…the formula is pretty simple, the execution is maybe a little more complex,” Wiese says.

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