Creators and Critics


“I’ve been all over the world and I’ve never seen a statue of a critic.”

― Composer Leonard Bernstein

Building painter overwriting the beginning of the word impossible so that it becomes possible

No one ever said turnarounds were easy. When you’re a market leader and global icon reinventing itself in the public eye (and stock market), naysayers (and short sellers) abound. But turnarounds do happen, even in the hyper-dynamic IT industry. You just need leaders and employees who are determined, resilient, and united under a common cause. Then you can accomplish what the cynics and critics say you can’t.

Everyone knows BlackBerry was once a giant in the land of smartphones. We invented much of what the smartphone is today and built one of the world’s best-known brands. More than that, we developed a strong emotional connection with our customers that persists even today.

But the market changed. Competition was everywhere and moving fast. We weren’t fast enough, and so we fell behind. But all the while, we continued to innovate in connected security and mobility, and we began to focus that innovation in software rather than hardware.

When BlackBerry’s board brought in John Chen as CEO in late 2013, he recognized our legacy and believed we could be a leader again, by taking advantage of our assets in software, security and mobility, and shifting away from the direct manufacture, distribution and marketing of handsets. We’ve been executing on this strategy ever since, though many of these changes came into focus in 2016. We’re no longer about the smartphone – we’re the smart in the phone…and everything from devices and cars to containers (below) and medical equipment.

Truck transport container on the road to the port.BlackBerry has evolved because the world has evolved. Network connectivity among objects, devices and computers – aka, the Internet of Things – is transforming how we live, work and play. Connecting people and things will be the new norm for consumers, but behind the scenes, it is transforming how enterprises develop, market, distribute and sell products. The Enterprise of Things is upon us.

However, data breaches and cybersecurity threats remain massive roadblocks. Businesses must be able to confidentially and reliably transmit sensitive data between endpoints to keep people, information and goods safe. While traditional security software players scramble to fill this gap, BlackBerry is already there, due to our leadership and ongoing innovation in securing and managing mobile devices. Our BlackBerry Secure software provides the embedded intelligence to secure the Enterprise of Things so that the Internet of Things can thrive.

Intelligent software always underpins any major technological advance. It is the fundamental value: autonomous vehicles, smart devices, and A.I.-powered robots are just inert bits of metal and plastic, otherwise. We’re confident that our software-focused pivot, combined with market dynamics, make the conditions ripe for BlackBerry to re-emerge as a leader.

Pivots are difficult but necessary, and eminently possible. IBM saved itself by switching from hardware to corporate software and services, while Dell transitioned from PCs into a massive enterprise vendor. HP, meanwhile, has split into two, one focused on consumer hardware, the other on enterprise software and services.

But perceptions of companies that have successfully pivoted may take years to catch up to reality, analyst Rob Enderle recently pointed out in IT Business Edge. BlackBerry “is nearly done with a full transition from a hardware-focused company to a software-focused company, with the broadest and most secure client management solution in market. Its problem isn’t product; it is image.”

That is what we are working so hard today on changing. Our dedicated employees already know the real BlackBerry Story; can you separate fact from fiction? I challenge the cynics and critics to really learn about today’s BlackBerry. Subscribe to the Inside BlackBerry blog, our newsroom, and social media channels to keep up with all of the software news and partnerships we are announcing all the time, such as the exciting news around BlackBerry QNX and connected cars from CES 2017. If not [shrugs], then keep on doing what you do. There’s room in this world for people who are building something, and those who only know how to tear things down.

And before I forget: Happy New Year! We wish all of our loyal customers, employees, and partners a wonderful 2017, as bright as the year we see ahead for BlackBerry.

About Marty Beard

Marty Beard (martyjbeard @ Twitter) is Chief Operating Officer at BlackBerry. He is responsible for leading cross-functional operations, including Marketing, Strategic and Application Partnering, Pricing, Corporate Support and Quality, eCommerce Sales and Security Evangelism. Marty previously served as Chairman and CEO of LiveOps, Inc., a software and services provider of cloud applications for customer service. He was also President of Sybase 365, a mobile messaging and mobile commerce unit of Sybase, Inc., and Vice President for eCommerce at Oracle Corp. He has a B.A. from UC Berkeley and an MBA from Georgetown University.

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