TORONTO, March 1 (Reuters) - BlackBerry announced on Sunday that it plans to expand its cross-platform strategy and deliver its often admired security, productivity and communication tools to any smartphone or tablet device running iOS, Android or Windows.
The one-time smartphone sector pioneer’s devices have waned in popularity in recent years, but in a bid to remain relevant, the Waterloo, Ontario-based company is pivoting to focus more on its software business and core strengths like security that won it recognition over the last decade.
In the last 18 months the company has revamped its mobile device management system to allow clients like government agencies and large corporations to also manage and secure phones and tablets powered by Apple’s iOS system, Google Inc’s Android platform and Microsoft Corp’s Windows operating system using its BES12 platform.
It has also opened up its popular BlackBerry Messaging app to those using iOS, Android and Windows devices.
At the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, the company said it plans to take this cross-platform strategy a step further and bring the entire BlackBerry experience, including features like the much admired BlackBerry Hub and its virtual keyboard across to devices powered by rivals.
“This is just a very natural evolution of taking our OS, the surfaces and security layers around it and putting it on others’ devices, so that our serviceable market is not only ‘BlackBerry’ devices, but all devices,” said BlackBerry Chief Executive John Chen on a conference call with media, adding these features will likely be available on other devices toward the end of the year.
Chen stressed that BlackBerry is still committed to its own devices business, and the company is widely expected to unveil at least one new device and provide detail on its device roadmap at the Barcelona congress on Tuesday.
“I intend to continue to build a hardware business” he said. “But there will be a lot of focus on the software business too.”
Separately, BlackBerry announced that it is expanding its partnership with Samsung Electronics, by making its WorkLife and SecuSuite features available on Samsung phones. The WorkLife feature splits work and personal voice and data costs on a device between employers and employees, while the SecuSuite package offers enhanced encryption on voice and data services.
BlackBerry had announced partnerships with Samsung and other high-profile tech players in November. (Reporting by Euan Rocha; Editing by Rosalind Russell)