Looking to burnish its business reputation, BlackBerry has agreed to buy a German mobile security company that specializes in voice/data encryption as well as anti-eavesdropping solutions. The company, Secusmart, has previously partnered with the Canadian phone-maker to offer security solutions for such customers as Germany's Federal Office for Information Security.
The purchase price was not made public, and the deal still needs the approval of regulators. The acquisition was announced at the BlackBerry Security Summit currently taking place in New York.
Based in Düsseldorf, Secusmart specializes in encryption technology to ward off eavesdropping, and its customers include the governments of Canada and Germany.
'Much More Distance'
BlackBerry CEO John Chen said in a statement that the company "is always improving our security, with devices being used for more critical tasks and to store more critical information, and security attacks becoming more sophisticated."
Chen has pointed out that half of IT spending in mobile takes place in such regulated industries as government, finance, and healthcare. Secusmart customers include German Chancellor Angela Merkel, and BlackBerry is angling to present itself as the most security-conscious enterprise mobility company with devices, mobile management and security.
Chen told The Wall Street Journal that Secusmart offers "a high value-added technology that I could charge for . . . and [it] creates that much more distance between me and competitors."
The recent IBM-Apple deal is seen as key competition to BlackBerry's comeback efforts, especially because it will offer secure mobile solutions, including mobile management, for enterprises and governments. In its announcement, BlackBerry noted that its customers include all G7 governments, all 10 of the largest global enterprises in the pharmaceutical, legal and automotive industries, and the five largest oil and gas companies.
Secusmart's managing director Hans-Christoph Quelle told news media that the transaction "is a fantastic opportunity to accelerate growth in the market for high-end secure communications solutions." He added that "Secusmart and BlackBerry's solution already meets the highest security requirements of the German federal authorities and NATO for restricted communications."
Laura DiDio, an analyst with industry research firm Information Technology Intelligence Corp, told us that the buy is a "necessary acquisition that has immediate and long-term applications" for BlackBerry.
She noted the timing, with the security-focused Black Hat conference kicking off this weekend, and said that the purchase positions BlackBerry "as a growing company."
As it boosts its security credentials, the company is seeking to expand its mobile management presence. Last week, it announced that BlackBerry Enterprise Service (BES) 10 will be available as a hosted service from six providers. BES allows customers to utilize the secure BlackBerry network, while managing iOS and Android devices as well as BlackBerry devices.
German tech companies also play a central role in that announcement. The company said on its Web site that German mobile management company Isec7 will provide worldwide hosting for BES, and three Germany-based companies -- Solvito, Systag Systemhaus and BFI -- will provide that service in their countries. IBM's Germany subsidiary will also provide service to European customers, and Exchange My Mail will cover North America.