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The Blackberry Passport Has Business Written All Over It

Passport is BlackBerry's (NASDAQ: BBRY  ) newest smartphone device with a large square screen and increased interactive capabilities aimed at enterprise customers, and includes's (NASDAQ: AMZN  ) 240,000 Android apps. While many consumers are excited about the prospects of a larger BlackBerry device with Android capabilities, it is clear that Passport has game-changing potential and enterprise success written all over it.

Passport's wide appeal
BlackBerry has made some nice design changes with its newest handset device, Passport. Most notably, the Passport has a square, 4.5 inch display, and a physical keyboard with touch capabilities, thus giving users the best of both worlds.

Therefore, the Passport may be appealing to consumers, as the device's square shape makes it ideal for reading books or viewing documents. Not to mention, Android applications will make the Passport more appealing to developers.

With that said, Passport might be a hit with consumers, but the real appeal lies in the enterprise space with BlackBerry's Project Ion initiative.

Keeping enterprise at the forefront
While BlackBerry used to be the hottest must-have consumer device, today it is mostly used among businesses. In fact, CEO John Chen recently said that 80% of BlackBerry's 50 million subscribers are business users. Therefore, devices launched by the company most certainly have the consumer in mind, but first and foremost is keeping enterprise clients happy.

This logic might help explain the rationale behind a large square phone with 50% more information from side-to-side; the Passport allows for 60 characters while most rectangular phones hold only 40 characters.

Nonetheless, Blackberry has invested heavily in both maintaining its current business user base, and appealing to new customers with top-notch security features like device management and, of course, its transcendent version of big data.

A push toward big data
For those unfamiliar with the concept of big data, sold by companies like Tibco Software (NASDAQ: TIBX  ) and Tableau Software (NYSE: DATA  ) , it is the accumulation and presentation of either real-time or past data so that businesses can make better decisions. To explain big data, Tibco CEO Vivek Ranadive recently said in a Motley Fool interview:

Data is all around us, and important in all industries. In energy, we can look at data and know what energy will be needed where, and when. We can then redirect that energy and prevent waste. Data can be used to find cures for cancer, such as which combinations of drugs will provide the best results for certain people.


Therefore, big data is a big market, mostly in the enterprise space, and big data plays a key role in Project Ion.

Project Ion at work
A couple months ago the Economics Times reported that BlackBerry was nearing the launch of a health care platform that collects data from thousands of medical devices to help spot medical problems in their infancy.  That data is then connected through devices that operate on BlackBerry's operating system. Essentially, health care professionals can look at data derived from 16,000 connected medical devices, which collect more than three billion vital signs annually to make better diagnoses.

At that point, once data is known, the opportunities for BlackBerry to serve the health care sector with products and services are seemingly endless. The key for BlackBerry is to have as many connected devices as possible, and this includes health care professionals who input and share the data that is collected. In order for this to be successful, a device is needed, something large enough to view and input data, but also small enough to be transportable. Hence, the Passport is a device that was seemingly created to compliment BlackBerry's strong grasp on the enterprise industry by building on its Project Ion initiative.

Albeit, the medical profession is a great example of Project Ion at work, but the system can work in any industry where BlackBerry's operating system is active. And with millions of users, BlackBerry has collected a lot of data in key industries where interactive, real-time, useful data can be of service. 


Foolish Thoughts
At the very least, Passport is a huge deal for BlackBerry, because once tapped into an industry with a key piece of software and hardware, the company can then create applications -- now partnered with Amazon and Android -- to allow employees to interact with consumers who also have BlackBerry devices.

It also opens the door for BlackBerry to sell future hardware and software to existing industries, or enter new ones like aerospace, construction, or retail with Project Ion. Hence, Passport might be the piece that fits BlackBerry's big data initiative all together, while looking pretty cool to many consumers at the same time.

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  • Report this Comment On August 20, 2014, at 5:42 PM, vespajet wrote:

    BB10 devices have been able to run most Android apps from the start (Even the failed PlayBook tablet had this ability.), but one had to sideload them onto the device, which some users were not comfortable doing. Apps like Snap, which made it even easier to download Android apps (in this case directly from Google Play), you had to sideload Snap onto your device. With the partnership with Amazon, folks don't have to sideload the Amazon App Store onto their devices in order to gain access. With BB 10.3 (which is the version of BB10 the Passport and Classic will ship with and other BB10 device will update to in the coming months), the Amazon App Store will be bundled in with the OS (Provided you haven't already loaded it onto your device.).

    The bigger question is what US carriers will sell the Passport? I can guess one that is unlikely to get it barring a reconciliation. Earlier this year, BlackBerry kicked T-Mobile USA to the curb and did not renew their license to sell BlackBerry products. This was in the wake of T-Mobile sending out mailers and emails with promotional offers trying to get those using BlackBerry devices on T-Mobile to switch to the iPhone 5s . Last Fall, T-Mobile announced that they were removing BlackBerry devices from their retailers, requiring customers to buy directly and have it shipped to them (Which wasn't necessarily a bad thing since folks could avoid the less than knowledgeable sales staffs in those stores lying about BlackBerry.).

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Brian Nichols

Brian Nichols is the author of "5 Simple Steps to Find the Next Top-Performing Stock: How to Identify Investments that Can Double Quickly for Personal Success (2014)" and "Taking Charge With Value Investing (McGraw-Hill, 2013)". Brian is a value investor, but emphasizes psychology in his analysis. Brian studied psychology in undergrad, and uses his experience to find illogical value in the market. Brian covers technology and consumer goods for Motley Fool. Brian also updates all of his new and current positions in his Motley Fool CAPs page. Follow Brian on Twitter and like his page on Facebook for investment conversations and recent stories.

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