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BlackBerry to soon announce secure OS licensing deals with smartphone makers

BlackBerry to soon announce secure OS licensing deals with smartphone makersNEW DELHI: Canadian enterprise software maker BlackBerry is in talks with various global smartphonemakers to provide its version of secure Android operating system under a licensing deal as part of the second phase of its licensing strategy, a top official said.

The company is calling its operating system BlackBerry Secure, which will come with all security features that are available with a BlackBerry-branded smartphone.

“We have a number of different contracts that we are working on right now. We expect some to be announced soon,” BlackBerry Senior Vice President, General Manager, Mobility Solutions, Alex Thurber told ET. “We have an agreement with Optiemus for the India market for BlackBerry Secure.”

Under this licensing deal, a smartphone manufacturer will be able to launch its own-branded smartphone with the security features and secure private version of Android operating system by the Canadian company.

Optiemus, a distributor of mobile phones and accessories, earlier this year inked a 10-year brand licensing deal with BlackBerry. As per the deal, Optiemus has exclusive rights to design, manufacture and sell the once iconic smartphone brand, besides providing customer support in India and some neighbouring countries like Bangladesh, Nepal and Sri Lanka.

BlackBerry has a similar partnership with BB Merah Putih for the Indonesian market and China’s TCL for rest of the global markets.

“We have three partners today that cover the world. We are not looking at any other partners for pure BlackBerry brand,” Thurber said.

The Canadian company also sees huge opportunity in the Enterprise of Things (EoT) segment and is looking at providing its secure operating system for televisions, wearables and medical devices.

“We have already started talking to a couple of medical manufacturers. John Chen[BlackBerry CEO] had also talked about TVs – there is an amazing amount of products that run Android and since we are able to make a very secure Android, we think there are a lot of opportunities. We have a very specific plan and we are working to that plan,” Thurber said.

The executive said that connected things have computers which could be hacked and used for cyber-attacks. “We believe it is important to bring security into every element of enterprise of things,” he added.

BlackBerry had earlier this month launched KeyOne Limited Edition Black in partnership with Optiemus in India.

“Indian market is very exciting and competitive. With huge potential users in the subcontinent, it’s the market we are very interested in,” Thurber added.
Consumers in India are becoming more aware of privacy, which could help drive BlackBerry smartphones, he said.