BlackBerry’s new CEO says he is “very interested” in trying to replicate some of the company’s signature security and enterprise productivity on rival platforms.
“We’d love to do it,” said interim CEO John Chen when asked on a financial conference call about the possibility of expanding the BlackBerry platform to smartphones running Apple’s iOS and Google’s Android.
BlackBerry has enjoyed favor in enterprises for its high levels of security and efficient messaging software, but the company has hit problems in the last couple of years because of slow development of new devices and much fiercer competition in the handset market from companies like Apple and Samsung.
“The one great thing about BlackBerry is that we are well known in security and productivity,” Chen said.
“I would love to find a way to make our BlackBerry experience [available] on Android and iOS. It’s not without difficulties, as you all know, but it’s something that we are very interested in trying.”
Some analysts have suggested that BlackBerry, which is struggling under the weight of large losses and declining sales, should jettison its hardware business and focus on software. The company took a step in that direction on Friday, when it said it would shift design and development of low-end handsets to China’s Foxconn.
Porting the company’s signature software to rival operating systems won’t be easy, especially if the company wants to maintain a high level of encryption and security, but the company has already started looking beyond the BlackBerry 10 OS.
In October, it released a version of its popular BlackBerry Messenger software for Android and iOS.
The software attracted 40 million new users in the first two months and BlackBerry said it is now being pre-installed in more than a dozen Android phones.
BlackBerry isn’t charging for the software yet. Chen said he was considering a monthly fee per user for customers running it with BlackBerry Enterprise Server.
“It will be a service that we offer with our BES strategy and the model will come from a per user, per month model,” he said. “I will not rule out the monetization from advertising model, but at the moment we are very far away from doing it. That doesn’t mean we can’t do it with a partner, but it’s not in my math.”