A few years ago we had all the jokes about BlackBerry and licensing, but yesterday the company reported a higher profit than analysts were expecting and says that its licensing program will expand soon. Right now, BlackBerry licenses its name and Android-based software for devices made by other companies. In December TCL announced it would be the exclusive manufacturer and distributor of BlackBerry phones in most countries, but now BlackBerry says it's pursuing "additional endpoints." That could include "tablets, wearables, medical devices, appliances, point-of-sale terminals and other smartphones."
On the company's earnings call, CEO John Chen said (via Seeking Alpha) that "We are now expanding to the next phase of our licensing program. This will focus on a broader set of endpoints. What this might mean, and I make no promise, is that you may soon see a BlackBerry tablet, and it will also extend to cobranded handset with IoT and Enterprise of Things to EoT devices. These endpoints will run our software and security features and be cobranded Secure by BlackBerry."
The exec was careful not to promise anything, but it's clear where the company is going. With connected devices spreading throughout homes and offices, it feels the BlackBerry name and technology still provides a level of comfort and security. Wherever those smart devices go, a BlackBerry-branded and powered device could follow. The example Chen used was with medical devices, saying that "companies providing medical monitoring devices must protect health data on the device, guarantee it connects securely to the healthcare system, and most importantly ensure that it cannot be hacked, BlackBerry Secure helps solve this triple threat."
Add in the well-received KEYone that's due to launch later this month, and Chen's plan to remake the company looks like it might be moving in the right direction.