India shows a way to BB, enterprise biz catches on

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BlackBerry’s smartphones may not be flying off the shelves, but its software and enterprise services are doing good business in India. So much so that the firm has turned focus on software and enterprise services segments in a bid to turn around the company.

“Revenue contribution from the software, services and other segments has grown to 63 per cent over the past couple of years, while the share of the devices business has fallen to 37 per cent,” said Manoj Khilnani, country marketing head, enterprise, BlackBerry India.

Formerly known as Research in Motion, the company does not provide revenue data for specific regions. It reported a net loss of $5.9 billion for the last financial year. For the last quarter ending March 31, losses were lower than expected at $423 million, compared with $4.4 billion in the previous quarter.

CEO John Chen last week said the company might stop selling handsets if it could not do so profitably. The company had been facing a lot of stress after Samsung and Apple launched smartphones that took away its strong corporate support base.

The Canadian telecommunication and wireless equipment firm considers itself masters in security and, hence, it has shifted focus from the devices segment to the software business. It offers business enterprise servers on platforms such as BES 10 and BES 12 and BES 5 and is putting higher emphasis on embedded technology after the acquisition of QNX for integrated offerings.

“We have over 1,000 Indian companies using BlackBerry’s BES 10 platform after the integration of iOS and Android with the BlackBerry operating system,” said Khilnani. “With the launch of BES 12 planned for this year, we will integrate even Windows on a single platform.”

Many of the clients of the BES 5 platform plan to upgrade to BES 10 and then to BES 12 after its launch.

BlackBerry has also set its sights on Indian small and medium businesses (SMBs), which have started turning to enterprise mobility management solutions over the last couple of years. “They are some of the potential customers for us. Unlike large enterprises, small enterprises can use the BES Express, which comes free of licence server charges and lower data plans,” Khilnani said.

“Small enterprises need to manage around 50 to 100 people on a single integrated system and can find BES Express extremely handy. We have seen strong traction in this space,” he said.

The enterprise software market in India grew by 15 per cent to $3.96 billion last year, according to research firm Gartner. It said the requirement of greater customer services, focus on cost savings and incorporation of emerging technologies into solutions aided the growth.

India is now the fourth largest enterprise software market in the Asia-Pacific, excluding Japan. Software adoption is happening at a faster pace with the consumerisation of IT and companies are allowing employees to bring your own devices to offices, leading to an influx of such devices – mobiles, laptops and tablets.

Khilnani claimed the security enhancements provided by BlackBerry were unmatched. “There is no requirement for separate anti-viruses for security, with BlackBerry solutions one can plug and play anything without worry,” he said.

He said there was no competitor who can provide end-to-end solutions to companies in hardware, software services and embedded technologies.

Apart from BES12, the firm will launch two other devices this year – Z3 and Q20. “We are working towards adoption of new technologies and will continue to maintain our strongest partnership with clients across the length and breadth of the country,” Khilnani said.


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