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BlackBerry to Stop Making Smartphones

BlackBerry was once an iconic brand. The company, which dominated the mobile market during the dawn of the smartphone era, has announced that it will no longer make hardware. Instead, it will focus on software, management, and security, which moves the company deeper into the enterprise.

The company has said that it will outsource its smartphone manufacturing to partners, while focusing on other areas, including software and security. The announcement, which came during its second-quarter financial report for fiscal 2017, was long anticipated by the industry. Once the gold standard at the dawn of the smartphone era, BlackBerry dominated the mobile market.

But its position slipped as Apple introduced the iPhone about 10 years ago, and Google’s Android operating system created a mass of sleek smartphones that fulfilled the needs of business, as well as consumers. In a statement released Sept. 28, BlackBerry CEO John Chen restated what he has previously, specifically that the company’s future lies in software, mobile management, and security.

He said, “Our new Mobility Solutions strategy is showing signs of momentum, including our first major device software licensing agreement with a telecom joint venture in Indonesia. Under this strategy, we are focusing on software development, including security and applications. The company plans to end all internal hardware development and will outsource that function to partners. This allows us to reduce capital requirements and enhance return on invested capital.”

While its days as a smartphone manufacturer are over, it doesn’t mean that BlackBerry will go away. In fact, for IT and the enterprise, the company is doubling down on its offerings. In its announcement Wednesday, the company highlighted two new business offerings that are geared toward the modern computing era. The first is the BlackBerry Radar, an end-to-end product for tracking internet of things (IoT) systems that recently started shipping.

The other is the BlackBerry Hub+ for Android, a software licensing program, which allows productivity and communication development on Android 6.0 devices. There have also been acquisitions to help its security portfolio, including its recent deal for UK-based security firm Encription Limited, which provides a number of different consulting services.

In addition to its traditional management software, security and software are the parts of the market that King says he believes BlackBerry can thrive in, especially since the company has close relationships with many IT departments. The company says that employees may use iPhone and Android smartphones that could potentially be controlled and secured through BlackBerry software.

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