BlackBerry Ltd. Finally Releases Software Users Will Pay for

Bravo, BlackBerry Ltd. (TSX:BB)(NASDAQ:BBRY).

For as long as anyone can recall, BlackBerry has been plagued with a curse of one step forward, two steps back. The company released a great, secure, new operating system called BB10, and then failed to attract developers to the platform.

BlackBerry then released a high-end phone for that operating system (Z30) that consumers were waiting for and wanted, but failed to market the device or even release it to more than a handful of carriers.

The company then decided to adopt Android, and even prepared a flagship device that users wanted to buy, but the company priced the device in the stratosphere and put a paltry two megapixel camera on the front.

The good news is that BlackBerry has finally done something that not only its intended audience wants, but it’s something that could be a revenue generator for the company.

BlackBerry’s productivity suite

BlackBerry’s Android devices come preloaded with a number of productivity suite apps that replace the dismal Messaging, Contacts, Calendar, and Task applications that come bundled with Android by default.

These applications are targeted to BlackBerry’s niche market of the highly productive, efficient, security-focused professional. The applications have received positive reviews from users and even attracted an underground of dedicated users who have taken the time to port the applications over to other Android devices.

Users and analysts alike have long seen this as a great opportunity for the company to monetize something that it’s done very well to a huge market of consumers that want that product. Fortunately, BlackBerry made an announcement relating to the software suite.

BlackBerry plans to add subscription pricing of $0.99 per month for the use of those premium applications after an initial 30-day trial period. At this price point, the applications are more than affordable considering the value and number of applications users will be receiving, not to mention the updates and new features the company has been rolling out over the past few months.

Users who don’t want to pay for the applications can continue to use the applications for free beyond the 30-day trial period, but they will be presented with an ad-supported experience.

On a personal note, I think this is one of the best things the company has done in years; it’s second only to the renewed focus on enterprise clients that John Chen introduced when he came on board.

BlackBerry’s productivity applications, rebranded as Hub+ Services, are extremely popular, not just with BB10 converts to Android, but also to the countless (and there are many) former BlackBerry users that adopted Android over the past few years who still long for an efficient and professional suite of applications.

The company even announced that additional applications will be added into the suite in the coming weeks and months. Currently, the Hub+ suite is available only for Android devices running 6.0 Marshmallow; support for older Android devices running 5.0 Lollipop is slated to be included within a few weeks.

This upcoming release is a huge shift for BlackBerry, and investors will note the untapped potential this software represents, provided that BlackBerry doesn’t take a step or two back as it has done in the past.

In my opinion, BlackBerry represents an interesting opportunity for investors, but the stock might still be too risky for most. If the Hub+ monetization proves to be as successful as industry pundits believe it will be, BlackBerry’s long-awaited turnaround may finally begin to materialize.

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Fool contributor Demetris Afxentiou has no position in any stocks mentioned.

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