BlackBerry quietly and slowly exhales as it sits unnoticeably at a table surrounded by other high profile players sporting taller stacks of chips. Nobody's head is turned at BlackBerry's direction but their eyes are secretly watching. The river has quite possibly changed the outcome for BlackBerry, but what cards the other players hold has yet to be revealed.
The world audience waits in anticipation to see if BlackBerry will fold, lose or go all-in. To the surprise of the other players, BlackBerry chooses to go all-in. The tension in the air is high as everything is at stake for them. The other players can afford to lose chips but BlackBerry cannot — not this time. The question on everyone's mind is if BlackBerry is bluffing, but the veteran player sits confidently with an unflinching expression. What does BlackBerry hold that none of the other players hold?
The answer is, QNX.
Is there something more to BlackBerry's QNX than meets the eye? There may be. Let's explore a probability that the competition has quite possibly overlooked. Recently BlackBerry invested in NantHealth for Integrated End-to-End Healthcare Solutions. If this puzzles you, it shouldn't. Many analysts and even Business Insider have said that healthcare innovation and technology is "the next trillion dollar industry." Even former Co-CEO of BlackBerry, Mike Lazaridis, who was named "Visionary of the year" last year by Intelligent Community Forum, has moved his interest into commercializing technological breakthroughs in the field with equipment such as the medical tricorder. I mention Mike Lazaridis because he's responsible for the decision of acquiring QNX while he was CEO of then Research In Motion, and also reportedly tried to purchase BlackBerry back in October 2013 with partner Doug Fregin. Although it didn't happen it still makes you wonder why.
Is there something more to BlackBerry's QNX than meets the eye? There may be.
Is there something Mr. Lazaridis envisioned that everyone else hasn't fully realized? Why would he step down as CEO and then try to make a bid for the very same company less than two years later? We can speculate on a number of things but there's something about QNX and the healthcare industry that ties into BlackBerry's future that needs to be observed.
Hospitals around the world have QNX embedded in most of their medical equipment — from ECG equipment to various monitoring devices. Technology Review reported that malware across network-connected hospital devices and systems were "rampant" in 2012. A real-time solution to this has yet to be found. BlackBerry has publicly stated that, "Healthcare is one of the key industries in which we have unique advantages and this investment (NantHealth Solutions) reflects our commitment to maximize our opportunities there."
If you read in between the lines you can see something materializing here. The medical industry's lifeline is reliable security and communications — the very same elements that make up BlackBerry's DNA. The beauty of QNX is that it can be modified and embedded in a great number of ways. It's also compatible with a wide range of open-source technologies such as Java, HTML5, OpenGL ES and Android making it a suitable OS for developers. The QNX framework already supports Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, and NFC, and with BlackBerry rolling out a full-featured QNX Cloud Platform in the near future, it may very well be a huge turning point for the company's embedded technologies.
The beauty of QNX is that it can be modified and embedded in a great number of ways
The venture into the Healthcare industry is a tailored made evolution for BlackBerry. Recently NantHealth and Blackberry have confirmed that they are working together on developing a smartphone specifically for professionals in the healthcare industry slated for a late 2014 early 2015 date. BlackBerry had said:
"This investment and planned collaboration aligns with the reliability, security, and versatility of BlackBerry's end-to-end solutions – from the embedded QNX operating system powering complex medical devices to secure cloud-based networks to instantaneous information sharing over BBM Protected and will include a device as well."
Omar El Akkad from the Globe and Mail, who has also reported on this stated, "For BlackBerry, the health-care industry represents a lucrative opportunity for a number of reasons. Unlike the education sector, where Google, Apple and others have aggressively marketed their products, the health care mobile technology market is still largely up for grabs. And whereas many consumers have been ambivalent to BlackBerry's traditional selling points of heightened security and reliability, such traits are highly valued in an industry where the security of patient information is sacrosanct."
The good news is there isn't much competition in this sector if any at all. The other major players such as Apple and Google cannot penetrate this market because medical devices and the like are highly regulated. These companies don't have much experience navigating the FDA's process and also cannot provide world-class security and communications on the highest level with reliability like BlackBerry can.
"Mr. Chen is positioning BlackBerry for a future as a more partnership-driven service provider in sectors where he knows the company can compete and win," Mr. Levy of Globe and Mail said. Perhaps Mike Lazaridis did indeed have a vision that many of us have yet to realize…one where BlackBerry's influence spreads far greater than just the consumer market and into the sky's limit.
BlackBerry currently sits unnoticeably at a table surrounded by other high profile players sporting taller stacks of chips. And they sit confidently with an unflinching expression. This is no bluff.
Article Written by Jubei Raziel