(This blog is by Ralph Pini, Chief Operating Officer and General Manager, Mobility Solutions, at BlackBerry.)
I have been in the device business for many years, and I can tell you at the end of the day, no matter the screen size, color or form factor, what’s most important to our customers is the software. Ultimately, the future of the smartphone industry is about ‘the smart’ in the phone, and less about the form factor. This plays perfectly to our robust software portfolio and positions us well for the future.
Today we make our first significant step toward leading as a software company by announcing that we are transitioning from doing internal handset hardware development to leveraging our third party partner to provide that function. This is what the future looks like for our business, and it is the right move as we progress towards profitability. This will enable our resources to focus all efforts on providing state-of-the-art security software for devices and the enterprise of things, as well as work on other critical areas of the company.
Our first licensing agreement is with a new joint venture called BB Merah Putih. Under the agreement, they will source, distribute and market BlackBerry handsets in Indonesia, our strongest market. The joint venture is led by PT Tiphone, an affiliate of Telkomsel, which is the largest carrier in Indonesia with more than two times the subscriber base of the next largest carrier, as well as Merah Putih and its affiliates which account for nearly half of the total Indonesian mobile market.
Indonesia: A Natural Fit
It is fitting that Indonesia is the first market where we are licensing our device software, as the country is historically BlackBerry’s largest market for devices and, by far, the most substantial for the BBM messaging software we created.
BB Merah Putih is a newly-formed joint venture, created in support of the Indonesian government’s efforts to promote the development, manufacturing and creation of locally-sourced products while increasing the number of value-added LTE smartphones available and sold in the country. Under the new device-software licensing agreement, BB Merah Putih will have full access to the BlackBerry experience, which includes the trusted BlackBerry for Android secure software and the Hub unified communications software, for the production of new devices in Indonesia.
BB Merah Putih and its partners expect great things from the agreement. “BlackBerry is a brand which Indonesians trust and respect, and this partnership will allow us to provide the type of mobile experience that our customers have come to expect with the productivity and security that the BlackBerry brand delivers,” said Tan Lie Pin, CEO of PT Tiphone.
Our Software for Their Hardware
There are both strategic and financial benefits to our new approach. By continuing to bring BlackBerry devices to market, enterprise customers and consumers will still enjoy our unmatched, end-to-end value proposition which includes best-in-class capabilities in security. We will also work with our partners to define a competitive hardware portfolio, leverage their distribution scale and access new channels.
At the end of the day, this will enable us to become a true software-led mobility solutions unit and to focus all efforts on providing state-of-the-art security software for devices and the enterprise of things.
The future – while it may look different – is certainly bright at BlackBerry.