Before the advent of the touchscreen which revolutionized the design of so-called smartphones forever, the image of the most hi-tech mobile device was any phone model from Canadian company BlackBerry. Its QWERTY keypad and the devices’ OS have at first encapsulated the concept of smartphones being handheld microcomputers. But the blistering pace of technological advancement saw BlackBerry being reduced to near-irrelevance by the advent of Apple’s iPhone and other devices running on Android, which made touchscreens better than physical keypads. BlackBerry announced their halt to producing smartphones last year, and to their pleasant surprise, the company seems to have rebounded.
As CNN tells it, BlackBerry appears to have made a significant turnaround in their fortunes as of Wednesday, December 20, when their stock surged by 10% following some solid demand for their software. This has been their primary focus ever since letting go of their in-house smartphone manufacturing and outsource development of the phones which had once been the personal favorites of former US President Barack Obama and Kim Kardashian-West. With the business of making BlackBerry hardware taken up by outside manufacturers, the company has only needed to concern itself with software development, which now generates 85% of their sales.
The recovery of BlackBerry from its monumental crash as a victim of the Apple-Android rise has been nothing short of miraculous. This year their stock has risen by a total of 75%, and their latest quarter earnings have been a record high of 77%. Analysts hold current CEO John Chen and his 2013 turnaround plan for the company as being the catalyst for BlackBerry’s reinvention and return from the brink. Part of his strategy had been embracing Android for BlackBerry-branded smartphones, and stepping up efforts in other software endeavors such as QNX, which is a hit with “connected” cars and the Internet of Things which connect and run home appliances.
It’s in fact the inroads in car computers that have been a major factor in BlackBerry’s renaissance. Their QNX is the core of the latest Ford automobiles’ Sync 3 smart entertainment/navigation systems. They have also partnered with Qualcomm to push the boundaries of chips for connected cars. This however doesn’t mean that their old smartphone stomping grounds have been forgotten. Currently BlackBerry has at least five contracted smartphone makers worldwide, making BlackBerry devices with some variant of their iconic software.
And their latest team-up is with watch manufacturer Timex since last September, where the end result is a possible smart-watch using BlackBerry’s Internet of Things technology. And all the royalties gain from having their name attached to products is going to help BlackBerry continue their return and rise to prominence.
Photo courtesy of business.time.com