Most investors have their eyes on the upcoming launch of the Priv by BlackBerry Ltd. (TSX:BB)(NASDAQ:BBRY). And that makes sense because investors still clamour for the days when BlackBerry controlled the phone market. And on the surface, the Priv is likely to be the best bet for BlackBerry to regain market share. It can be billed as “Android Secure” and will come with all the apps in the Android ecosystem.
That all sounds great until you realize that Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) has already won. According to CEO Tim Cook, 30% of iPhone buyers switched from Android during the fourth quarter. That is the single greatest ratio of switchers the company has ever experienced. Even Android can’t beat Apple anymore.
So, while the Priv might sell some devices–and it may even sell a good chunk of devices–that’s not really going to turn BlackBerry around. People like their iPhones. Executives like them, managers like them, and even people in charge of security at companies like them. The Priv may be Android Secure, but I don’t expect companies to suddenly wake up thinking that BlackBerry is the most secure mobile provider around.
IoT can save BlackBerry
Now that the depressing part of this article is out of the way, let me explain why all of that is okay. Ever since I first started investigating BlackBerry, I have had the belief that the company needs to accept that it has lost the hardware market and should focus on software. Specifically, I think that it needs to focus on one industry that could be worth trillions of dollars: the Internet of Things (IoT).
According to research firm IDC, IoT could be a $1.7 trillion market by 2020. And BlackBerry already is making significant pushes into this space. In essence, your car could communicate with your phone the second it needs new oil. And it could even schedule an appointment for you. The IoT is the interconnectedness of billions of devices, big and small, around the world.
BlackBerry has the software to power to do this. In 2010, it bought the operating system QNX, which is already being used in Ford cars. As more devices come online, BlackBerry will push to have it be the backbone of the hardware. And because you don’t want someone being able to hack your car, BlackBerry will be able to sell itself as the secure option for the IoT.
The reality the company is facing is simple. It failed to innovate fast enough in the phone market and Apple won. It now has a chance to innovate in a new sector that is forward thinking. Phones are common; the IoT is fresh and the future of technology. BlackBerry needs to accept that it lost and focus its resources on the IoT. If that happens, I think BlackBerry has a bright future. The Priv may be nice, but it’s the IoT that will save this company.
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Fool contributor Jacob Donnelly has no position in any stocks mentioned. David Gardner owns shares of Apple and Ford. The Motley Fool owns shares of Apple.