Mobile World Congress 2017 past, but as usual all the devices had been announced on the opening weekend, starting with TCL’s BlackBerry KeyOne. Buried in the news of the fourth BlackBerry device running Android was a big change for the company: BlackBerry no longer makes devices; BlackBerry now only makes software.
So the KeyOne is just the first of many BlackBerry-branded devices coming out this year. Instead of devices, the company sees itself offering security and privacy features, specifically making it easier for businesses, governments, and individuals to protect whatever information they deem valuable.
How will BlackBerry do this without making any actual devices? By focusing on software.
License out everything, but control the software
BlackBerry has handed all the hardware and sales details to its licensees. The KeyOne is the first BlackBerry phone that BlackBerry isn’t pushing itself. The prior three devices, the BlackBerry Priv, the DTEK50, and the DTEK60, all went through the BlackBerry distribution chain.
Now, licensees are responsible for selling the BlackBerry-branded phones through their distribution chains. There’s no difference to the end customer, whether it’s business or an individual user, as the devices are still available in retail stores, from carriers, and on the open market.
But for carriers and distributors, they’ll now work with the licensees, as opposed to with BlackBerry.
At the end of the day, BlackBerry has “complete control of the software.” Well, Google still makes Android, but BlackBerry offers its software and apps on top, including monthly security patches.
Never say never
Given this new strategy, which has been in the making for over a year, one would think that BlackBerry is entirely focused on software for Android devices and that it will never make hardware again. That would make sense, but the company isn’t quite ready to commit.
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