updated 12:48 pm EDT, Tue July 29, 2014
Company turnaround underway, says CEO in wake of deal
At its annual BlackBerry summit, the beleagured smartphone manufacturer has announced a deal that will see it acquire Germany's Secusmart to enhance its own security offerings. BlackBerry CEO John Chen said of the deal that it "creates that much more distance between [BlackBerry] and competitors" in the battle for corporate and governmental business share.
"Everybody wants to talk about eavesdropping, but it really isn't just that. Both governments and enterprises are now more and more focused on security in the mobile world," said Chen in an interview about the transaction. The companies worked together on securing the BlackBerry 10 operating system.
Secusmart products are in use to protect high-ranking government officials in Germany and Canada. One of the devices protected by the technology is German Chancellor Angela Merkel's phone, which the NSA is said to have penetrated anyhow.
Chen took some heat about the deal, given the contraction of the company in recent years. He said that "we do need to invest in certain areas, if we want to compete in the future" and that "we are already starting to turn on our machine to now hire people" that the company has lost. "I wouldn't say we've completed the turnaround, but the tough decisions and the tough thinking have already been taken or are done. Whether it's going to be good enough to be iconic again, OK, that's something I need to chew on. I don't know the answer to that question."
BlackBerry holds two percent of the US smartphone market, including devices that have been in service for years. Its share continues to erode, even after the release of the BlackBerry 10 OS. Terms of the company's deal to acquire Secusmart have not been made public.