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A conversation with Blackberry MD Nick Horton


A look at how the smartphone brand is doing in the GCC market.

May 14, 2014 11:11 by

While BlackBerry may be hitting a bit of a sour note when it comes to worldwide markets, customers in the Middle East region are retaining their appetite for the brand. Nick Horton, BlackBerry Middle East Managing Director, discusses the company’s position in the region.

How is business in the GCC market for BlackBerry?

The GCC and wider Middle East region is an important market for BlackBerry. As of January 2014, BlackBerry was the #2 smartphone brand in the Middle East, according to Canalys. What’s more, the Middle East was one of the primary markets where we launched our BlackBerry 10 smartphone range, and in June 2013, we opened the first BlackBerry store in the Middle East, located in the Dubai Mall. Looking ahead, we remain committed to growing our product portfolio in the region in line with our global launches.

How do you view BlackBerry’s position in the market today?

For decades, BlackBerry has empowered people and organizations with productivity solutions that make them more efficient so that they can make decisions and get things done – on their time. BlackBerry is the most reliable end-to-end secure communication platform, from the device, network to the server level, and that is what makes our solutions unique. Security is our DNA. It is built into everything we do, and we have been doing it longer and better than anyone else in the industry. What’s more, we remain the dominant mobile device management (MDM) leader, with a global enterprise customer base exceeding 80,000 and remain the valued and trusted partner to global government agencies and enterprises for more than a decade. Also, BlackBerry enables greater communication and collaboration for individuals. The latest BlackBerry 10 smartphones feature a unique mobile experience that helps users to be more productive and stay better connected.

What is your strategic focus this year?

Our strategic commitment has been well documented lately since the arrival of a whole new senior leadership team and we are focused on moving the company forward. Our strategy will focus on four main areas: handsets, enterprise, QNX, and BBM. BlackBerry has a lot to offer, and now we are on the trajectory to take advantage of the opportunities in front of us. Furthermore, we will capitalize on our traditional strengths in security and enterprise, while leveraging our QNX Embedded business to focus on future growth opportunities in machine-to-machine (M2M) communications. QNX is the software that powers BlackBerry 10, but it’s also an embedded OS with possible applications in a number of industries – particularly automotive.  So, as we move forward security, productivity, communication and collaboration will be imperative as we look to maintain our strong position in the Middle East, which is an important region for us.

What do you predict for the future of Blackberry in the smartphone market?

BlackBerry will continue to be the number one player for customers who care about enterprise mobility, and for consumers who want to get the most out of their smartphones to maximize their productivity, communications and collaboration. We recently unveiled the BlackBerry Classic smartphone, designed around our iconic keyboard experience.  We will be bringing back favorite hard button features for “Menu,” “Send,” “Back” and “End,” as well as an integrated trackpad. The BlackBerry Classic will also have a 3.5-inch touchscreen, the largest display yet on a full QWERTY BlackBerry smartphone. People who love their BlackBerry devices have always appreciated that their device allows them to get things done. And key piece of our productivity focus is our keyboard.

So, an enterprise focus is key even in the Middle East ?

We are focused on moving the company forward and we have a whole new senior leadership in place. In line with an increased focus on enterprise, we are also looking at various ways to expand our footprint there. We announced the next generation of BlackBerry Enterprise Service (BES). It will be available later this year. The new platform will enable organizations to develop enterprise-grade applications that are quickly deployed to BlackBerry smartphones and other mobile devices. We are also working closely with government entities including Dubai Police, Abu Dhabi Police and Dubai Electricity & Water Authority on delivering apps as well as other interesting initiatives.  Moreover, we are seeing continued investment in BlackBerry Enterprise Mobility Solutions from strong players in the Middle East such as Emirates Airlines, RasGas. All in all there are a lotsof positive things happening in the Middle East, and working closely with all our partners and customers, we will continue to provide exceptional products and the best in class solutions that we are renowned for.

By Mehdi Mabrouk for Aficionado.

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