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BlackBerry wins cybersecurity contract with Government of Canada

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BlackBerryCanadian tech company BlackBerry (BlackBerry Stock Quote, Chart, News, Analysts, Financials TSX:BB) has announced a new multi-year agreement with the federal government, one which will see the cybersecurity and software company supply endpoint management and communications security to government departments.

Shared Services Canada, which delivers digital and IT services to federal organizations will be using BlackBerry’s unified endpoint management and cyber threat prevention system Spark along with its SecuSUITE platform for mobile device communications.

A staple for government employees for decades, the iconic BlackBerry handset may not be the go-to choice anymore for public servants — BlackBerry stopped making handsets in 2016 and has since given over development and production to other companies — but the company has maintained a role in the Government of Canada’s enterprise mobility management and security throughout the rise and fall of the BlackBerry phone.

“BlackBerry and the Government of Canada have been trusted partners for over thirty years,” said BlackBerry CEO John Chen in a press release on Monday. “We are delighted to expand our contributions to the Government of Canada’s agenda and deliver digital services that better serve Canadians. Shared Services Canada plays a critical role in Canada’s digital transformation strategy and we are very pleased to be their partner.”

BlackBerry has been the beneficiary of government support on its IoT tech side of the business, as well, with the federal Strategic Innovation Fund giving $40 million in 2019 to BlackBerry’s QNX connect car platform.

The feds have also given BlackBerry the nod on cybersecurity, saying in a 2019 report on the government’s Digital Charter on citizens’ personal information that BlackBerry “has earned its reputation as an industry leader in security and privacy,” as quoted by Navdeep Bains, former Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry.

BlackBerry has had an interesting start to 2020, to say the least, with the company’s stock getting momentarily tangled up in the social media-fuelled investor push against short-sellers on stocks like GameStop (NYSE:GME), AMC Entertainment (NYSE:AMC) and, for a Canadian angle, BlackBerry.

The stock had already been on a rise in December and January on news of a collaboration with Amazon AWS when retail investors started buying up the stock, sending BB from $10 to as high as $31. The euphoria was short-lived, however. BlackBerry dropped back to about $15 relatively quickly and has moved downward over ensuing weeks.

BB wasn’t helped by underwhelming quarterly numbers, with the latest instalment coming at the end of March where BlackBerry reported fiscal fourth quarter revenue of $210 million, down from $282 million a year earlier.

Hampered in its QNX business by the pandemic’s blow to the auto sector, BlackBerry has had a trying time over the past year. For the company’s fiscal 2021 (ended February 28), BlackBerry had revenue of $893 million compared to $1,040 million for its fiscal 2020. The bottom line result was a loss of $1.97 per diluted share for fiscal 2021 compared to a loss of $0.32 per share a year earlier.

Reflecting on the year that was, Chen said that the last four quarters were “an exceptional year to navigate,” but said QNX should return to normal revenue levels by mid-fiscal 2022.

“We are seeing tangible signs that our efforts and improvements in go-to-market are starting to pay off and have a positive impact,” said Chen in the Q4 press release. “This quarter we generated strong sequential billings growth for our Software and Services business, including significant improvements for both Spark and QNX. Total billings are back to pre-pandemic levels.”

BlackBerry’s share price over the past 12 months has returned 102 per cent, while year-to-date the stock is up 35 per cent.

Last year brought rumblings of a new BlackBerry handset to be released in 2021 by OnwardMobiilty and FIH Mobile, who had taken up the mantle once China’s TCL Communication let its contract expire last year. TCL had been making Android phones under the BlackBerry name for four years before OnwardMobility came on board last summer with plans to make a 5G BB phone with the ever present QWERTY keyboard, although there has been no news in recent months.

As an update on its QNX business, BlackBerry last week announced that Volvo had selected QNX as the software of choice for its engine control unit (ECU) in over 300,000 heavy vehicles manufactured by Volvo Group.

“To realize its vision for the electronic architecture of future generations of vehicles, Volvo Group wanted to take a new approach to software,” said BlackBerry in a press release. “It wanted to find a single supplier for the operating system (OS) and hypervisor to meet the needs of the ‘whole truck’, capable of supporting safety certification to the highest levels.”

BlackBerry said QNX is now the operating system in more than 68 per cent of the electric vehicle market by volume, is incorporated by 23 of the top 25 EV manufacturers and is currently running in more than 175 million vehicles worldwide.

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About The Author /

Nick Waddell
Cantech Letter founder and editor Nick Waddell has lived in five Canadian provinces and is proud of his country's often overlooked contributions to the world of science and technology. Waddell takes a regular shift on the Canadian media circuit, making appearances on CTV, CBC and BNN, and contributing to publications such as Canadian Business and Business Insider.

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