BlackBerry (NASDAQ:BBRY) is aiming its forthcoming Passport smartphone squarely at the enterprise market, but has plans for enterprise-focused devices beyond that.
At an event in New York City that focused on enterprise security, BlackBerry executives touted the Passport, which will be released in September. The gadget has a 4.5-inch square HD screen and a physical keyboard. However, it's not the only enterprise-focused phone BlackBerry is planning, thought he company did not provide many details on its future product roadmap.
According to ZDNet, Charles Eagan, BlackBerry's vice president of software foundation technology for devices, noted at the event that the company has "a multi-year product portfolio" before he was cut off by the company's public relations team.
BlackBerry has committed to supporting a phone dubbed the Classic later this year that will also have a physical keyboard. Both the Classic and the Passport are part of the company's wider strategy of going back to its enterprise roots as a way to turn around its sales and finances.
John Sims, president of the company's Global Enterprise Services business, said that the Passport "is not going to be a device for everybody, but for certain industries, sectors and certain companies," according to the Financial Post. Both he and Eagan said that healthcare and financial services are two industries BlackBerry is targeting with the phone. They noted the square screen is optimized to view spreadsheets.
Eagan also noted touted a new technology called Guardian that he said will protect BlackBerry devices from malicious Android applications by scanning applications users download. BlackBerry earlier this year announced it would offer Android apps via a deal with Amazon's App Store.
In conjunction with the event, BlackBerry also announced it will acquire Secusmart, a German enterprise security firm focusing on voice and data encryption and anti-eavesdropping solutions for government organizations, enterprises and carriers. The companies have been partners since 2009. BlackBerry did not reveal financial terms of the deal.
The German government chose the SecuSUITE for BlackBerry 10 solution last year for classified communications for the country's highest public officials, including Chancellor Angela Merkel, whose phone was tapped by the U.S. National Security Agency. Since that revelation came to light last year the NSA has said it is not tapping Merkel's phone.
BlackBerry's acquisition of Secusmart is the company's first major transaction under CEO John Chen, who took the helm at BlackBerry last November. In an interview with Bloomberg, Chen said that he has worked to stabilize the company's finances, especially through costs cuts and job cuts, and is laying the groundwork for hiring and sales growth.
Chen is working to turn around BlackBerry but said he is unsure if the firm can ever regain its once-iconic status. "I am comfortable with where the company is today, how we managed our technology, our businesses, the margins, the distribution channel or the new products that's coming out," he told Bloomberg. "Whether it's going to be good enough to be iconic again, OK, that's something I need to chew on. I don't know the answer to that question."
- see this release
- see this ZDNet article
- see this CNET article
- see this Financial Post article
- see this Bloomberg article
- see this separate Bloomberg article
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