Amazon has now officially announced it will be working with BlackBerry as a partner on Alexa for Business – a partnership that BlackBerry says will see several smart speakers made with a hardware partner.
An Alexa blog post published Wednesday officially announced that Alexa for Business is now available to partners building with the Alexa Voice Service. Amazon first announced Alexa for Business in fall 2017 and already counts some customers using the smart assistant. Now third-party manufacturers will be able to sell hardware that provides access to the platform as well.
Sanjay Ramaswamy, a product market at Amazon, wrote this: “With a simple extension to the AVS Device SDK, device makers can leverage Alexa for Business to bring the power of voice to enterprises. Together, the solutions allow for: (1) deployment of third-party devices to shared spaces such as conference rooms, hotel and dorm rooms, lobbies, kitchens, break rooms, and copy rooms, (2) device management as part of the device makers’ existing management flow, such as room designation, device health monitoring, and location setting and (3) skill management, such as public and private skill assignment for shared devices without publishing to the public Alexa Skills Store.”
One of the partners Amazon will be working with is BlackBerry. Other brands named include Plantronics, iHome, Extron, and Linkplay.
IT World Canada broke the news about BlackBerry working on an Alexa smart speaker Oct. 4, based on interviews with BlackBerry executive Charles Eagan at its Security Summit in New York City.
At the time, Amazon chose not to comment on the story. Now it’s confirmed BlackBerry as a partner.
Responding to email questions from IT World Canada, a BlackBerry spokesperson says the partnership will see more than one device manufactured. “We are working on multiple Alexa-powered smart speakers that will be built with BlackBerry’s secure technology. The first device will be available in the first half of next year.”
BlackBerry stopped its hardware operations in 2016. It now licences its BlackBerry mobile brand to companies such as TCL, which sells the Key 2 and the Motion.
A spokesperson confirms that a hardware partner will also be involved to produce the Alexa speakers, but declined to name the partner at this time.