Light Reading

BlackBerry Wants a Fruitful Future in M2M

Sarah Thomas
5/13/2014
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BlackBerry hasn't said it will stop making its once-iconic, now-passé smartphones (yet), but it's clear the struggling company sees a brighter future in devices outside of the smartphone. (See BlackBerry's Chen: We're Not Dumping Devices.)

In a wide-ranging interview with the Economic Times, new BlackBerry CEO John Chen said leveraging QNX, the operating system it acquired in 2010, for M2M communications was a key priority for the struggling handset maker going forward. (See BlackBerry Shakes Up Its C-Level.)

"We have engineered a new strategy to stabilize the company, focusing on several key areas to capitalize on our traditional strengths in security and enterprise, while also leveraging our QNX Embedded business to focus on future growth opportunities in machine-to-machine (M2M) communications," Chen told the publication.

More specifically, Chen says that BlackBerry will have a major M2M play in five years' time, although he didn't say which industry it would be targeting. "BlackBerry is well positioned to lead this charge as it looks to unite people and machines across the Internet of Things -- from smartphones to in-vehicle telematics systems, smart appliances and much more," he said. "Everything will be connected and we would like to become a major hub of this next important technology wave."

This meshes with previous comments Chen has made, and I think it's a good strategy for the Canadian company. For one thing, QNX is already the operating system of choice for a lot of non-smartphone devices like, for example, MRIs and connected cars. That's one reason BlackBerrry invested in a healthcare startup last month -- to get QNX on even more medical devices. (See BlackBerry Invests in Healthcare IT Startup.)

And, in case you haven't noticed, the connected car is suddenly the space that everyone wants a seat in, from carriers to device makers to software providers. From what I've seen in past demos, QNX is a solid OS for in-car navigation and "infotainment," and it already has partners lined up including Porsche, BMW, Saab, Audi, and Acura. (See AT&T Makes GM Cars a Data Plan Add-On.)

I imagine these two areas -- healthcare and connected cars -- will be the focus of BlackBerry's forthcoming M2M hub, and that's a good place to start. Five years is a long time to wait, but the line of business at least seems like a safer bet with more potential than taking on smartphones.

— Sarah Reedy, Senior Editor, Light Reading

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nasimson
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nasimson,
User Rank: Light Sabre
5/31/2014 | 4:04:19 AM
Re: M2M in General
@ Sarah:

May I suggest that better than the rants and reeves section, Eds cover this in a series of blogs. Why is migration to IP v6 slow - even slower among the telecom providers.

We recently upgraded all our core, radio & tranmission network. Despite that I was surprised that we still operate on IP v4.
nasimson
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nasimson,
User Rank: Light Sabre
5/31/2014 | 3:52:11 AM
Re: A more open BB
> says Blackberry's strategy includes allowing its device to be
> managed by "third-party mobile device management applicatons."

@ Ariella: I am amused when I read that this is a strategic choice made by BB management. Far from being a choice, it was a compulsion. Enterprises didnt pick up BB10 server; instead they are opting for multi-platform MDM/BYOD. Thus BB actually had no choice, but to let their (fewer and fewer) devices managed by the 3rd party MDMs.
nasimson
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nasimson,
User Rank: Light Sabre
5/31/2014 | 3:44:12 AM
from nowhere to a major player
> More specifically, Chen says that BlackBerry will have a major
> M2M play in five years' time,

I dont see why Chen says that BlackBerry is well positioned to be a leader in M2M/IoT! Wishful thinking may be.

However I do see that this is a good area to focus right now, if BlackBerry wants to reinvent itself.

BlackBerry reminds me of Ford: Any color as long as it is black.
SReedy
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SReedy,
User Rank: Blogger
5/21/2014 | 5:57:45 PM
Re: M2M in General
I'm not well-versed in IPv6, but I'll let you know if I hear any updates! Might be a question for the community at large in the "rants and raves" section as well.
SReedy
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SReedy,
User Rank: Blogger
5/21/2014 | 5:55:20 PM
Project Ion
Looks like BlackBerry's M2M ambitions have a name: Project Ion -- more here (and maybe more to come at this conference): http://www.cantechletter.com/2014/05/blackberry-unveils-m2m-play-called-project-ion/
Mitch Wagner
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Mitch Wagner,
User Rank: Lightning
5/15/2014 | 2:08:45 PM
Re: Too late
Exactly so -- not just a technology advance but also a cultural transformation that would be difficulty for a healthy company to pull off, let alone one that's struggling as BlackBerry is. 
colin the viking
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colin the viking,
User Rank: Light Beer
5/15/2014 | 2:08:41 AM
M2M in General
Hello Sarah, Please can I ask a general question here. What success are you having in the US in implementing IPv6 and M2M? I know that the US Federal Government are mandating IPv6 so hopefully you are probably going to see the fruits of M2M before we do in Europe. Do you see this asa means of carrying out all types of transactions (including financiial ones) rather than just as a industrial tool? Thank You. Colin
DanJones
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DanJones,
User Rank: Blogger
5/14/2014 | 3:53:30 PM
Re: Too late
This would be a serious technology advance though, not sure if BlackBerry has it in them right now.
Mitch Wagner
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Mitch Wagner,
User Rank: Lightning
5/14/2014 | 3:53:14 PM
Re: Too late
Or, more likely, BlackBerry might simply sell QNX, or be acquired for QNX. 

If I sound skeptical it's because I am. For every company that succeeds in turning itself around, there are 10 that fail. And BlackBerry would have to not just turn around, but start fresh in a new industry. 
Mitch Wagner
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Mitch Wagner,
User Rank: Lightning
5/14/2014 | 3:51:44 PM
Re: Too late
Good point, Dan. A technology breakthrough makes a great foundation for rebuilding a company on. It's how Apple did it back in 1997 with the candy-colored iMacs, although that wasn't so much a matter of technology as design. 
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