It’s crucial BlackBerry phones remain visible in retail outlets

It is crucial that BlackBerry phones remain visible in retail outlets, says the head of the company’s enterprise division.

John Sims, BlackBerry’s president of global enterprise solutions, said Monday that while BlackBerry may be shifting its focus to business and government customers, products need to be widely sold in cellular companies’ stores, and consequently its relationships with the wireless carriers who sell handsets are important.

While BlackBerry’s strategy “is grounded in enterprises,” and chief information officers who make decisions on technology “don’t go to the local store,” Sims said, it is still “important for us to be present in those environments because their employees go to those stores and they see the devices.”

Workers may get their smartphones from their company, but “they are going to be a lot more comfortable with the device if they saw it in a store,” he said.

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In addition, he noted, many telecommunications companies are shifting their emphasis from selling devices to selling software and services – often to small and medium sized businesses – and BlackBerry wants to help them do that.

Speaking to reporters at the BlackBerry Experience Event in Toronto, he continued:

BlackBerry’s new “centre of gravity” is the desire to help businesses and governments deal with the complexity of managing mobile devices, Sims told the gathering. And the key to Blackberry’s advantage over its competitors on this score is its “deep understanding of security,” he said.

Consequently the company is focusing on some vertical markets where security is crucial. That was behind its recent move to buy a minority stake in California-based health-care firm NantHealth, which specializes in real-time, cloud-based information services for doctors and patients.

BlackBerry will also look at similar moves in other regulated industries with security issues, Sims said, including financial services or the energy sector. He noted that oil and gas companies send people around the world to do sensitive exploration work “and then they get on a phone call, or on e-mail, unprotected.” They know that in certain countries their calls are being listened to, and their e-mails intercepted by competitors or governments, he said, so “they want secure solutions to protect their intellectual property.”
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