The era of BlackBerry's hardware dominance ended quite a while ago, but the company has continued to struggle to recapture what it believes to be its glory days. CEOs have changed, executive management has changed, even their platform strategy has changed. The one thing that has stayed consistent, however, is their slumping hardware sales.
That number is about to go from dismal to zero, as the company has finally decided to do away with its internal hardware development efforts. Starting now, and really in the recent past, BlackBerry will license their name to existing hardware firms to design and build BlackBerry-branded devices. The handsets will runs BlackBerry's more secure version of Android, as well as the company's suite of applications.
This strategy is not new within the industry. Google has been doing the exact same thing with its Nexus line of phones and tablets. Nexus devices are designed by 3rd parties like HTC and Huawei, but run the "pure Google experience" rather than the manufacturer's altered version of Android. BlackBerry began this strategy with their new DTEK50, a BlackBerry-branded device designed and manufactured by Alcatel, originally available as the Alcatel Idol 4.
While this might seem like a big change for the company, it is not as monumental as you might think. BlackBerry has always been a software company who has focused on security. Their customers were the first to have end-to-end encryption on their mobile communications, through BlackBerry Messenger, Email and more. Their need to make hardware came more from a lack of potential partners than it did from wanting to have their own hardware. Palm was making their own hardware for both Palm OS and Windows Mobile and Motorola and UTStarcom/HTC were making Windows Mobile smartphones. There were really no other players in the market to get involved.
With this new ability to focus their attention back on software and security, BlackBerry can be what it always without the distraction of what they never really needed to be. If ever a strategy change was going to work for the company, this is the one. Android needs someone championing security for the platform since Google seems uninterested in doing it.