Bring your own app is a new trend: Sunil Lalvani

BlackBerry, once the pre-eminent player in the smartphone market is rapidly evolving into a technology company which will enable communication for all kinds of devices, be it on the Internet or otherwise, in a very secure environment. This evolution will see BlackBerry focused on four key areas: devices, enterprise software, secure messaging and its QNX operating system. Sunil Lalvani, managing director, BlackBerry India, said while remaining focused on the higher priced handset segment, they are getting a positive response from Indian enterprises for the new technologies being rolled out into the market, in an interview with PP Thimmaya.


What changes has BlackBerry undergone?
We have always been device plus company who provide services and software solutions. In the earlier days, when somebody needed a productivity tool it was a BlackBerry device with our network and security features being the key differentiator. We were rendering our service through the end points which were the devices. In the last 12-18 months, couple of things have happened which are positive for the industry. The entry of low-cost handsets has proliferated the use of smartphones but the key element is that enterprises want a service around these devices. Under the new BlackBerry, our strength around security and network architecture is being extended to non-Blackberry devices be it Android, iOS, Windows or our own operating systems. Between these five platforms, any end-point can be managed and secured through our BES range of servers. Going forward, this will be integrated to the cloud. We can cater to every enterprise segment with flexibility built into it.

What are BlackBerry’s plans in messaging segment?
One of the services that we have rolled out is BBM protected. Security is a matter to all of us and in many sectors these devices carry sensitive data. We are providing a powerful, secure instant messaging platform. As we go forward, there will be other functionality approaching all corporates. If bring your own device (BYOD) is a trend, a new one emerging is bring your own application (BYOA). Organisations are concerned about it and we have extended our functionality of security and privacy. In the future, BlackBerry will be focused on four verticals: devices, enterprise software, secure messaging and QNX operating system.

What has been the traction for BlackBerry’s operating system QNX?
In North America, there are lot of sectors like automotive, which are using QNX and it is playing to our strengths like security and device management. It has the ability to communicate on real time basis. In the future, this will be extended to other devices, besides the smartphones, like washing machines or fridge, which are connected to the internet. The idea being that the data being transmitted is secure and real time.

In India, it is still at very early stages. There has been one commercial deployment but we are finding traction from sectors such as power, automotive, healthcare sector. We are now building up eco-system for this concept of Internet of Things (IoT). We are looking for partners who can support this structure. The possibilities are limitless. For example, a network of hospitals, using QNX, can connect disparate devices and talk to each other under one common operating system. We will be ready to roll out this infrastructure when the partner ecosystem is in place.

Will BlackBerry remain focused on the smartphone segment?
We will be very focused on the mid to high-end price segment of smartphones. At the lower end, there are devices with a price point below $150. BlackBerry by virtue of its manufacturing structure will not
allow it to play in the lower-end segment. BlackBerry is seeing certain uptick in the segments that we operate and we are not chasing marketshare. Our core strengths are network and security. We are rolling out devices based on customer feedback and one of the primary concern was around battery life of the handsets. We have come back on that and come out with devices which are superior in terms of battery life, browsing experience and robustness on apps. India remains a top top priority market for BlackBerry.

What will be BlackBerry’s retail strategy?
For us both the formats—offline retail and online will coexist. We will continue with our relationship with e-tailers. We partnered with Flipkart for the launch of Z3, which was well received. We are present in every format, be it retail, multi-brand outlets, brand experience stores. We would like to give customers the choice on how to procure the devices.

BlackBerrybring your own deviceBYODinterviewSunil Lalvani
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