BlackBerry’s name was once synonymous with “smartphone.” But times have changed, with iOS and Android now dominating the smartphone space. Phones running BlackBerry’s own operating system have a virtually insignificant market share.
So the company tried something new starting last year: it released an Android smartphone called the BlackBerry Priv that uses Google’s operating system, but also a bunch of BlackBerry-specific apps and features.
This year the company pretty much stopped developing its own hardware altogether and recently announced a licensing deal with TCL to sell BlackBerry-branded phones while BlackBerry itself provides software and services to TCL and others.
And it looks like the new strategy may be working: in its latest fiscal report, BlackBerry officials say the company should be profitable in fiscal year 2017.
We aren’t quite there yet: the company reported overall revenue of $289 million for the quarter, down from $548 million a year earlier.
But revenue from software and services is on the rise, and the company’s costs associated with hardware are going down. CEO John Chen said BlackBerry had its “highest gross margin in the company’s history” for the second quarter in a row.
In addition to focusing on software for smartphones, BlackBerry is also working on smart automobiles. The company’s QNX software already powers some in-car entertainment systems. Soon we could also see self driving cars that run on QNX.
It remains to be seen whether BlackBerry’s new software-focused strategy will pay off in the long term. But for now, it certainly seems like the company has found a way to survive without developing and selling its own hardware.