Sentiment around BlackBerry Ltd. (TSX:BB)(NASDAQ:BBRY) is changing again.
For the past few years BlackBerry has been in the midst of a fairly long and painful turnaround plan. The company is well renowned for starting the smartphone revolution with the iconic devices and small keyboards.
BlackBerry has attempted to reinvigorate the hardware division, first by releasing consumer-friendly devices running the proprietary BB10 operating system. More recently, the company adopted the wildly popular Android operating system, while still making its own device hardware.
So what’s changed?
BlackBerry is no longer making devices
This statement doesn’t necessarily mean that BlackBerry’s hardware division is being shut down–at least not yet. The latest hardware offering from BlackBerry, the DTEK50, is based off another manufacturer’s design, which BlackBerry modified only slightly.
This not only lowers costs for BlackBerry, but also puts the majority of the design onto another company. Given the varying array of oddly configured devices that BlackBerry has released over the past few years, this is a good thing.
The final piece of the device puzzle is pricing. The DTEK50 is being aggressively priced at $299, making it a viable option for the enterprise-friendly, security-minded consumer that BlackBerry is targeting. This should hopefully create increased sales over the last few device releases.
BlackBerry’s software segment is taking off
BlackBerry’s software segment is really starting to take off. The company has been working hard under the leadership of John Chen to focus on what differentiates Blackberry from others: security and enterprise.
BlackBerry has made a number of large acquisitions in the past several years that have been aimed at solidifying control over the enterprise and security segment. BlackBerry even purchased a cyber-security firm and started a consulting business around it–something that is sheer genius considering the knowledge that BlackBerry has on securing networks and devices.
The interesting point about the software segment is that sales are significantly higher than the hardware division, and, even better, they are recurring. Nearly 70% of BlackBerry’s software business is recurring income. This segment is already beating the hardware division in terms of revenue, so all eyes will be on the company when the next quarterly update is provided in a little over a month from now.
What does this mean for the future of the company?
Historically, when BlackBerry experiences a rally of any kind, talk of the company being a buyout target starts, and this latest rally is no exception. Over the past month the stock has surged nearly 10%.
This isn’t a fair assessment, at least not yet.
The company is still a work in progress. Software is improving, but hardware still has a way to go. Within the next two quarters, BlackBerry should have yet another Android device on the market, and in terms of a time frame, that release should be near the imposed deadline that Chen gave to the hardware division to turn things around or be shut down.
In my opinion, BlackBerry remains a risky investment, at least until the next quarterly results are released that indicate a sentiment of where hardware sales are heading.
Currently there are far better options on the market for investors.