It seems like not a week or two goes by without a new article predicting the demise of BlackBerry Ltd. (TSX:BB)(Nasdaq:BBRY). If the company were a cat, it would have expended all nine of its lives over the past few years. And yet, it’s still here, clawing its way back from the brink of bankruptcy to a state of modest growth and improving financial health. This resiliency makes BlackBerry one of my favourite companies.
Since CEO John Chen has taken the helm, BlackBerry has corrected many of the errors of the past and returned to some semblance of stability, and in doing so, it turned the corner on lay-offs and has made a couple of great acquisitions along the way. Perhaps most importantly, we’ve seen a real focus on what really is BlackBerry’s niche market –software and services for the enterprise user, with an emphasis on security.
The sky is falling (again)… or not
A recent Business Insider report claims that several Investment Banks such as JPMorgan Chase & Co. and Credit Suisse Group AG are now asking employees to return their company-issued BlackBerry devices, moving to a bring your own device (BYOD) policy that relies on third-party applications such as Good Technology’s email app for security.
Let’s get one thing straight: Losing a hardware contract with a large investment bank is by no means good news for a company, especially since BlackBerry still has a hardware division that releases devices of its own. But that’s where the gloomy “sky is falling” point ends, as there is much, much more to BlackBerry.
Why the future (still) looks positive
While there may be several banks no longer issuing corporate BlackBerry devices, there are countless others that still use them, and have no intention of dropping them. BlackBerry references 20 other global financial companies by name that are still customers, noting that there are still “many, many more” that cannot be named. As an aside, gazing up from my own device on my morning commute, I actually see more BlackBerry devices than I did a year ago, not less.
In the world of BYOD, IT departments need the right tools to manage the devices and protect sensitive corporate data. This is where the BlackBerry niche I mentioned really becomes evident. BES12 is BlackBerry’s cross-platform Enterprise Mobility Management suite (EMM) that secures Android, iOS, Windows Phone, and BlackBerry devices. So while some banks will drop the corporate-issued BlackBerry in favour of a different employee-selected device, the data is still being secured by BlackBerry. During the last quarter alone, BlackBerry added 2,200 enterprise customers, giving it more enterprise customers overall than a significant part of the competition combined.
So while companies may continue the BYOD trend and drop the corporate-issued device policy, BlackBerry is clearly remaining an important part of securing corporate data for mobile users, and is not going to be disappearing anytime soon. This niche as a secure software services provider is what excites me most about BlackBerry. Just as it was the first to bring the world the smartphone, it’s now leading the pack in terms of EMM and mobile security adoption.
While the future of BlackBerry continues to remain rocky, I believe owning a position in BlackBerry is a smart move, as it forms the backbone of so many enterprise connected devices. If it continues to succeed, you’ll have a nice return on your investment.
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Fool contributor Demetris Afxentiou no positions in any of the stocks mentioned in this article.