BlackBerry Eyes New Licensing Deals to Spread Its Reach to Tablets, Wearables and Appliances

6 Apr
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By Simran Agarwal, The Tech Portal

As a part of its licensing strategy, BlackBerry now seeks to work with various device manufacturers to integrate BlackBerry Secure software into both BlackBerry-branded and co-branded devices. The company has already entered into new agreements with new licensing partners and plans to launch tablets, wearables, medical devices, appliances and point-of-sale (POS) terminals under its brand name, alongside Blackberry-branded smartphones.

Considering the success of its licensing engagement with TCL, the company seems to be mulling over new ventures. Late in 2016, BlackBerry entered into a manufacturing and distributing agreement with the Chinese multinational electronics company TCL and has till now lent its brand name to three of the smartphones — DTEK60 and KEYone. The latest of the lot being Blackberry KEYone, expected to release somewhere around May, this year.

Describing the move as the next stage of its licensing policy, CEO John Chen further added,

We have taken a long-term and thoughtful approach to our licensing strategy, which includes an expansive view of the entire Enterprise of Things ecosystem. 

According to Blackberry, Enterprise of Things refer to all those connected devices like sensors, trackers, and other devices used by businesses to manage operations within their ecosystem. In December, the company launched a comprehensive, unified software platform designed to secure such devices. The platform was a major step in their transition to a software company. As mentioned, post the success of its plan, the Secure software will be diffused within proposed devices.

Since the company has given up on its hardware division, its growth and survival through licensing deals appear to be a strategic fit. Although Blackberry didn’t specifically name partners it has on its mind, the anticipation for better profits in the next quarter might be signalling the same. Blackberry expects to grow at or above the overall market in their software business and to be profitable on a non-GAAP basis. It aims to generate positive free cash flow for the full year 2017-18.

As the latest earnings report by Blackberry, the non-GAAP operating income stood at $13 million coupled with an earning of 4 cents per share. This was also accompanied by an operating loss of $57 million, which is significantly lower than $238 million or 45 cents per share in the previous year. Their non-GAAP margin increased from about 40% in the previous quarter to 65% in the three-month quarter, ended in Feb’17. Operating expenses were nearly halved, now standing at just $229 million.