Reports of BlackBerry’s death have been greatly exaggerated

4 Oct 2016

BlackBerry. Image: Svetlana Dikhtyareva/Shutterstock

BlackBerry has responded to the growing number of obituaries about the company, claiming it’s still alive and kicking, but it’s facing in a slightly different direction.

Last week, BlackBerry announced a departure from its norm, no longer attempting to be a player in the smartphone hardware space.

It appeared, at the time, to herald the end of a once great company, with the 2007 release of the iPhone twisting the knife in the deep wound that quickly ate through BlackBerry’s soft core.

Future Human


However, while many were left thinking the company was a dead duck, CEO John Chen has come out fighting.

In a blogpost on the company’s new activities, he reiterated plans to instead licence out the creation of BlackBerry devices, while his company now focuses entirely on software.

“BlackBerry is no longer just about the smartphone, but the smart in the phone,” he said, adding that ending its hardware operations is “not a new direction”, which is confusing, though not entirely untrue.

The BlackBerry Priv was released late last year and will be the last of the company’s independent devices, though shifts into software solutions has been in the works pretty much since Chen undertook his role in 2013.

A strong proponent of net neutrality in terms of content providers, Chen wrote of his plans to make his company’s software available across all mobile platforms as far back as January 2015.

At the time, he pointed out that BlackBerry Messenger and his company’s secure BES12 mobile device management software could be used on Android or iPhone devices, not just on the BlackBerry itself.

“This is not a new direction for BlackBerry, but a continuation of our strategy,” he confirmed today.

“For example, we recently made the BlackBerry Hub, Calendar, and Password Keeper applications available on the Google Play Store for use on a wide range of Android smartphones.”

Lauding his company’s security record, Chen’s statement is essentially a lengthy paraphrase of Mark Twain’s iconic, often misquoted, obituary rebuttal in 1897: “The report of my death was an exaggeration.”

BlackBerry. Image: Svetlana Dikhtyareva/Shutterstock

Gordon Hunt was a journalist with Silicon Republic