What happened

Shares of BlackBerry (NYSE:BB) enjoyed their best month in recent memory in December, gaining 12.95%, according to data provided by S&P Global Market Intelligence. But that might have felt like a bit of a letdown for investors, who saw the shares soar 45% early in the month before retreating somewhat in the weeks that followed.

BB Chart

BB data by YCharts.

So what

BlackBerry, the Canadian company once known as Research in Motion, is perhaps still best known as the maker of the original must-have smartphone. Those days are long gone, but the company has continued to plug away as a maker of software and services focused on security.

The stock got a charge following a Dec. 1 announcement that BlackBerry was teaming with Amazon Web Services to develop a platform that will help automakers collect and organize data from vehicle sensors.

Illustration of a secure cloud.

Image source: Getty Images.

It's not as glamorous a business as making smartphones. But if successful, the partnership could solve a huge problem for automakers and open up a giant addressable market as vehicles become more automated and sensors and data become more important. The two companies hope to work together to unify tech from a wide array of different manufacturers so various sensors can work together.

Now what

Despite the December volatility, BlackBerry shares are basically flat over the past 12 months. But if the Amazon partnership works out, the company should be worth a lot more in the years to come than it is now.

The high-flying handset days are over, but BlackBerry has quietly assembled an impressive set of security and Internet of Things software. It is a company to watch heading into 2021.

This article represents the opinion of the writer, who may disagree with the “official” recommendation position of a Motley Fool premium advisory service. We’re motley! Questioning an investing thesis -- even one of our own -- helps us all think critically about investing and make decisions that help us become smarter, happier, and richer.