At every smartphone refresh cycle, which occurs annually in the summer ahead of the back to school rush, BlackBerry releases something new, too.
BlackBerry, without embracing Android, was previously running the mobile division under a broken business model. Conversely, its business in enterprise software and IoT is growing. The two businesses are in contradiction with each other but ultimately, BlackBerry cannot leave the devices market. Its release of DTEK50, the most secure Android device on the market, once again leads BlackBerry at the crossroads.
For IT staff testing BES 12.5A, the mobile device management software, cross-marketing of the BlackBerry and Android phone on the site is prominent everywhere. BES 12 software is free and enterprises only pay monthly services, so IT departments only need to consider what devices to support.
DTEK50 is oddly named but cleverly markets security at the forefront of the smartphone experience.
The target market is not just enterprises: it includes consumers, too.
On the company’s blog, the YouTube video correctly brings smartphone security at the forefront. At an introductory price of USD $299 ($429 CDN), BlackBerry is not asking for much of a premium for delivering security. Users even get a mobile battery charger, HUB, the BlackBerry keyboard software, and of course the DTEK security application.
BlackBerry should market Android with this logo:
More of the same?
We’ve heard BlackBerry’s comeback in devices before. The past releases are:
- PRIV (CDN $899)
- Classic, running on BBOS10
- Passport, running on BBOS10
- Z3, a budget BB10 device
- Z30, the forgotten BB10
- Q10, the BlackBerry without the track pointer
- Z10, the first BB10
DTEK marks the eighth attempt at a comeback. Time will tell if DTEK50 is a hit. Despite the unmarketable name, if consumers demand function over features, then this cheap device should sell many units.
That BlackBerry off-set the hardware designing, manufacturing, and delivery risks to a third-party will prove a smart move. In return for passing the hardware profits to the third-party, BlackBerry gets to promote Android security as a function for the user community. This is a better strategy than developing BBOS10 but wasting billions on hardware costs and on marketing.
Sharing the hardware development risks will likely hurt BlackBerry’s profit margin but pave the way for future deals for BlackBerry’s security software.
For now, DTEK50 initiates a new phase for the company. Still, this is very much a wait and see move. If the company sells at least 100,000 – 250,000 units a month at launch, it may encourage management to plan premium versions of the device.
If sales do not lead to a profit, they will have to re-think their mobile device strategy.
Chances are very good that even with light sales, BlackBerry will continue selling phones. The smartphone market is saturated, but there is not a single Android supplier that may claim it offers top-notch secure devices.
DTEK50 changes that. It’s about timing.