BlackBerry Goes After Twilio With Messaging App Developer Kit

  • Company markets software as it seeks new sources of revenue
  • Twilio, Bandwidth and Nexmo already offer these services

BlackBerry Ltd. is opening up some of its secure messaging and file sharing technology for developers to use in building apps, creating a new revenue stream for the company as it works to boost sales.

The Waterloo, Ontario-based company said the software development kit it’s releasing this month will include tools for building chat apps, video and voice calling, secure file sharing and sending out push notifications to mobile phones. BlackBerry joins a crew of companies already offering similar services including Twilio Inc., Bandwidth.com Inc., Nexmo Inc. and Plivo.

The key differentiator for BlackBerry though, will be its reputation for security, Chief Operating Officer Marty Beard said on a call. “We don’t think current providers are meeting the needs of the enterprise,” he said. “The market needs this.”

The move is a textbook example of Chief Executive Officer John Chen’s strategy of taking the company’s existing technology and finding new ways to monetize it. Instead of the closed, device-focused BlackBerry that Chen inherited three years ago, the company now licenses its software and gives permission to other companies to make phones with the BlackBerry brand.

Beard declined to comment on how much revenue the company was expecting to generate from this initiative, but said it would “add to growth.” It will be sold on a subscription basis to app developers and internet service providers.

Device revenue now accounts for less than half of BlackBerry’s profits and is falling, but sales of software that Chen acquired and built out in recent years is picking up the slack. The company expects software revenue to be $640 million in the fiscal year ending March, compared with $494 million in the previous year, Chen said in December.

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