Earlier this year, we had chat with Nader Henein, BlackBerry’s Regional Director, Advanced Security Division about BES 12, Internet of Things (IoT) and the future of BlackBerry as a company. This month, he was able to chat with us again and we focused on the progress of the acquisitions made by the company. Here are some excerpts from the interview.
The last time we spoke, you spoke about some of your acquisitions and about pushing them.
We are not the kind of organisation that would acquire a company or product and then they would disappear. We are very much big on integration and giving the user an end to end experience when it comes to what they get from BlackBerry and what services they get from BlackBerry. So in terms of Watchdox, Athoc, GOOD Technologies all these products, our commitment when we acquired these products was a continuous integration over the 12-18 months following acquisition and that is exactly what’s happened. The last release of BES 12 was one unified platform where you could manage all your devices be it on ASW or otherwise, you could manage any Athoc endpoint and you could also manage your Watchdox deployment from one unified location. The next release you will see a much closer integration of that with an increased capacity and scalability.
I can’t go into the details of our next release but I can promise you that the administrators and users are going to have a much smoother experience and a much more integrated experience. It’s not that the administrator can manage all these solutions from one location, the user can also share information between device solutions and leverage one and the other to be able to achieve a higher and closer level of collaboration as well as well as a faster response time for clients and customers.
The user experience that we are focusing on with our enterprise products and entire enterprise portfolio is that users can get the same level of usability they would get from a consumer solution that is a joy to use but with our products, they also get an embedded level of security that is military grade.
Regarding a few of your specific acquisitions, what is the status of some of those acquisitions right now especially with relation to deploying them in this market? How far have they gone in development. Let’s start with Morvitu which lets you have virtual sims.
The Morvitu acquisition has been launched with a few network operators but we are still working on a few more. So, it is one of those things that unfortunately is slow paced into deployment so as an end user, once deployed you will not see it but get the functionality. Has it been deployed widely? Not yet, not as much as we would like to see it deployed. Is it growing and are we seeing more and more support from the carrier partners and operators? Absolutely. Do we think that we are at the limit? Absolutely not.
So, it is very much going but not moving as fast as we would like to because the network operators would have to do quite a lot to be able to integrate Morvitu into their environment and it is something that we are trying to help them do day in day out so, it is just a question of the type of product and the work it takes to get it up and running.
Let’s talk about Athoc. I think that there are a lot of use cases here in Nigeria and I want to know how far you have gone with deploying or if you are in talks with anyone with regards to deploying that service in Nigeria.
With Athoc, it is deployed in Africa but i can’t say where purely because the majority of our customers for Athoc right now are the military and government at least in the African continent. Having said that, it is up and running, it is functional and it is been used in incidences but I can’t tell you exactly who the customer is. What we are hoping for is a wider deployment and what we’re looking for to get us that wider deployment and a larger customer base is the right partners which is what we are actually trying to actively search for within Central and Western Africa.
The next question is still related to Athoc but you can relate it to other services. And it is, how easy is it or how friendly is it for third party developers to plug into? For instance using Athoc, I can see scenarios where people that already provide some sort of service can plug into APIs that would broaden their use case and also broaden the adoption for Athoc and other services. In this case, I am not talking about BES all through but also the modular services.
Deploying Athoc and I’ve been party to a multiple Athoc deployment, is fairly huge. It gets a bit complicated when you want to integrate and the endpoints are not supported and that is where the API you mentioned comes in and development comes in. So, let’s say you want to control or send information down to an item that was not previously integrated, this is something that takes a matter of days not weeks. The next version of the unified solution is going to give you much stronger connectors into more and more endpoints. Giving examples of some of the deployments we have done recently, is with a partner who is in airports and what they use Athoc for is to manage everything from something as simple as a flight delay, all the way to a large incident at the facility. So if there is a flight delay, they want to make sure that all the digital signage around the airport is correct and accurate and they also want to make sure that anyone who works in the airport can give a consistent message about that flight delay. And as incidents increase in criticality, they are able to bring in more and more resources. Let’s say that there is a security incident at the airport, they can include the police services both police services internal and external to the airport, they can include ambulance services, fire and rescue, pretty much anything so the capability of the products are not limited to big incidents. They also work really well for small incidents to improve the level of support and response time.
Blackberry has hardware partners in some select countries and is onboarding more hardware partners so, how much is BlalckBerry involved in the design of the hardware seeing that some of the services and BlackBerry’s own Android stack would have some peculiarities. Basically how much is BlackBerry involved in the design of the third party hardware.
From a user experience from the software perspective, we do the work end to end. From a hardware perspective, obviously we work very closely with the licensees to ensure that the experience is very fluid but also because it is our brand on these devices, we are heavily involved with them as well and to what level of involvement? Heavily involved because, it is the BlackBerrry brand at the end of the day.