How BlackBerry went from iconic cellphones to cybersecurity

Blackberry was once at the top of the US smartphone market In 2010, nearly half of US smartphone subscribers used BlackBerrys, according to Comscore.

The phones were well known for their touchscreen keyboards and BlackBerry’s advanced cybersecurity, often favored by businesses and governments.

But after its phones fell out of favor with users, BlackBerry changed course, taking some of the company’s cornerstones with it.

“After a few years, we realized that we would never increase volume – and that’s a volume game,” said John Chen, CEO of BlackBerry. “And so we made this major shift to a software-only business and focused on security, cybersecurity and things like that.”

Although he stopped making phones, he didn’t walk away from the industry.

“Currently, BlackBerry has two main business units, a cybersecurity business unit and an IoT business unit within the cybersecurity business unit,” said Charles Eagen, chief technology officer of BlackBerry.

Its cybersecurity unit focuses on securing things like smartphone apps and mobile banking websites. Its Internet of Things unit focuses on communicating technology in connected and self-driving cars.

“We now have the lion’s share of on-board software in most cars,” Chen said.

BlackBerry technology is present in about 215 million cars and this side of BlackBerry continues to grow, according to the company.

“If we look at the industry opportunity itself, we expect the automotive software industry to roughly triple from 2020 to 2030,” said Luke Junk, principal analyst at Baird.

However, BlackBerry faces competition in the cybersecurity industry, and in 2021, its cybersecurity revenue was $500 million.

“I think the company can probably achieve a lower peak than what we’ve seen in the past, but a more sustainable growth trajectory and a potentially more profitable future also on a margin percentage basis,” Junk said. .

CNBC visited BlackBerry’s Autonomous Vehicle Innovation Center and interviewed Chen to find out what’s next for the company.

Watch the video to learn more.

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