New BlackBerry business unit will monetize QNX, Certicom

Waterloo, Ont.-based smartphone manufacturer BlackBerry Ltd. has created a new business to house, develop and monetize some of its non-handset businesses.

On Monday, BlackBerry executive chairmen and CEO John Chen announced the creation of the BlackBerry Technology Solutions Business Unit (BTS). It will be headed by Sandeep Chennakeshu.

BTS will include a number of BlackBerry’s key non-smartphone technology assets, including the embedded technology it acquired with Ottawa vendor QNX, its “Project Ion” Internet of Things application platform, its Certicom cryptography applications, its Paratel RF antenna timing technology and the vendor’s patent portfolio.

“QNX, Certicom and Paratek are strategic and technically innovative assets with significant potential to address the much wider global markets for secure, reliable communications and embedded applications. Project Ion creates an application platform that enables secure and collaborative machine-to-machine communication required by the growing number of end-to-end, Internet of Things applications. Our broad global portfolio of 44,000 patents is of value to several industry segments,” said Chen, in a statement. “Combining all these assets into a single business unit led by Sandeep will create operational synergies and new revenue streams, furthering our turnaround strategy.”

A 25-year veteran of the technology industry, including research, product development and IP creation and licensing, Chennakeshu is a former president of Ericsson Mobile Platforms and CTO of Sony-Ericsson. He is also a named inventor on some 73 patents.

BlackBerry said earlier this month that it was back in hiring mode after a long and painful restructuring that saw it reduce its workforce by 60 per cent. Chen said headcount would be added in sales and customer service, and the vendor was now free to make strategic acquisitions to drive future growth.

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Jeff Jedras
Jeff Jedras
A veteran technology and business journalist, Jeff Jedras began his career in technology journalism in the late 1990s, covering the booming (and later busting) Ottawa technology sector for Silicon Valley North and the Ottawa Business Journal, as well as everything from municipal politics to real estate. He later covered the technology scene in Vancouver before joining IT World Canada in Toronto in 2005, covering enterprise IT for ComputerWorld Canada. He would go on to cover the channel as an assistant editor with CDN. His writing has appeared in the Vancouver Sun, the Ottawa Citizen and a wide range of industry trade publications.

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