BlackBerry Ltd. (NYSE:BB) is acquiring Good Technology, a maker of mobile device management and security software. The acquisition further demonstrates BlackBerry's move toward mobile device services, security, and the Internet of Things.
BlackBerry will be buying the privately held company for $425 million in cash, using approximately 14% of its $3 billion in cash and short-term investments -- certainly not a huge acquisition, but fairly large for a company that's continued to struggle.
Playing to BlackBerry's strengths
Foolish followers of BlackBerry have probably noticed the change from a phone hardware manufacturer to more of a software and security company. Even the company's press releases begin by calling itself "a global leader in secure mobile communications." Approximately 40% of the company's revenue came from hardware last quarter, compared with 38% for services, and 21% for software and technology licensing.
Specifically, BlackBerry is looking to use its security expertise and expand into the Enterprise Mobile Management market, or EMM. Good Technology will help BlackBerry's strategy to offer a complete product that secures mobile devices across a company's network, regardless of which operating system, device, or apps the person is using.
This strategy plays on the BYOD trend, or "bring your own device," as well as the "corporate owned, personally enabled" trend, where users don't want to have separate devices for work and personal life because of security or management issues. Nobody wants to lug around an extra BlackBerry phone for work email when their preferred phone is an iOS or Android device. Instead, companies are finding ways to let people use their devices as they want but still get the security and management they need.
Like BlackBerry, Good Technology has a lot of corporate and government clients for whom security and device management is paramount. This situation will further enhance BlackBerry's position in these spaces, especially vertical industries such as government, finance, law, and increasingly healthcare. According to the press release, "Good [Technology] serves ... all of the Fortune 100 commercial banks, aerospace, and defense firms." The two companies will have some overlap that will need to be addressed, but the move removes one of BlackBerry's competitors in the space. For example, this Verge article dug up some catty marketing material from BlackBerry that illustrates the former rivalry between the two.
This isn't the first acquisition in the EMM space for BlackBerry. The company recently closed its acquisition of WatchDox, a service that allows users to protect, share, and work on their files across all mobile operating systems along with PCs. The company will be integrating WatchDox into its BES12 Enterprise Mobility Management product, again emphasizing BlackBerry's move toward security and supporting all operating systems.
More opportunities ahead?
Management estimates the acquisition to be completed toward the end of the company's 2016 fiscal third quarter and expects to realize approximately $160 million in GAAP revenue in the first year -- not a lot to boost the top line for a company with revenue currently running at approximately $2.5 billion per year. Further, Good Technology is still unprofitable, so BlackBerry management will need to find a lot of overlap and other expenses to cut in order to realize any profits in the near future.
But the acquisition speaks to the BlackBerry's larger security focus and potential turnaround. Already the company is talking about using Good's technology to support wearables, and BlackBerry is keenly aware of the Internet-of-Things trend. As more devices, vehicle fleets, tools, and other mobile assets become connected to corporate networks, they will all need to be managed and secured.
BlackBerry is nowhere there yet -- the most recent acquisition is small, and it will take time to integrate their technology and clients into a unified platform. Therefore, investors shouldn't be snapping up BlackBerry shares on this news alone, but the development and slow transformation of BlackBerry is something to watch closely, as the need for mobile device management and security is already present and will continue to be a huge potential area of growth in the near future.