BlackBerry eyes fresh start in China as software company

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 11 April, 2017, 9:12pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 11 April, 2017, 11:09pm

BlackBerry, the Canadian technology company formerly known as Research in Motion, aims to re-establish its business in China this year as a major supplier of advanced enterprise mobile device management and security software.

“We want to be the market leader,” Mike Ding, BlackBerry’s senior sales director for North Asia, said on the sidelines of the company’s recent corporate relaunch in Hong Kong.

It’s a strategy that would entail forging new strategic alliances with the large consulting companies, systems integrators and other potential distribution partners in the world’s largest smartphone market, Ding said.

Founded in 1984, BlackBerry was once one of the world’s leading mobile phone suppliers, with a peak global market share of 20.1 per cent in the first quarter of 2009, according to data from Statista.

The rise of Apple’s iPhone and a plethora of smartphones running Google’s Android operating system resulted in a rapid sales decline for BlackBerry from 2010, which eventually led to a sweeping corporate restructuring and layoffs in 2013.

Hong Kong-born technology industry veteran John Chen, the chief executive at BlackBerry since November 2013, has been presiding over the company’s steady shift into software and services.

BlackBerry made its biggest acquisition in 2015 with its US$425 million takeover of Good Technology, its US rival in the growing market for enterprise mobility management (EMM) software.

Ding said the total addressable market for EMM software is estimated to be worth US$1. 7 billion.

“The company has a 20 per cent global market share in EMM today, with 23,700 customers around the world,” he said. “We currently have a small presence in China, where we are aiming for steady growth.”

BlackBerry also aims to grow its licensing business, he said. In December, it gave Chinese electronics manufacturer TCL the rights to use its brand on Android smartphones.