BlackBerry buys AtHoc, as smartphone pivot continues

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BlackBerry has continued its move away from traditional smartphones with the acquisition of crisis communications specialist AtHoc.

The company's software platform allows people, devices and businesses to share information during crisis events.

BlackBerry said it would integrate AtHoc's software with its own enterprise portfolio to offer enterprises safer and more secure communications. It said potential new products would include allowing staff to hold video calls using its BBM messaging service during alerts when conventional networks are down.

AtHoc's platform can work across iOS and Android devices, as well as PC and Mac desktop computers, digital displays, radios, IP phones and the likes of sirens, fire panels and speakers. The United States departments of defence and homeland security already use its products.

John Chen, BlackBerry Executive Chairman and CEO, said: “BlackBerry is making strategic investments in security, privacy and the Internet of Things, and acquiring AtHoc will enable us to provide a holistic, end-to-end approach to communications.

“We have a proud history of securing mission-critical communications for the public sector as well as enterprises operating in the most highly regulated industries. AtHoc’s technology and expertise will play a key role as BlackBerry works to connect and secure a broad range of endpoints.”

BlackBerry is transforming its business as it looks to reverse slumping profits and sales in its ailing smartphone arm. Part of this strategy is bolstering its software and services wing, as well as developing Internet of Things solutions. In May, it bought data security company WatchDox, a secure file transfer and collaboration company.