“Everything Is An Endpoint” Brings BlackBerry Back From The Dead

For many, the fact that BlackBerry still exists — and the fact that it spent $1.4 billion of the $2.4 billion in capital it had — is the most surprising part of the Cylance acquisition. BlackBerry hasn’t shirked its mythological status as the case study of what happens when a company fails to understand where the market is going and what its customers want. Whether you think BlackBerry’s first death was caused by Apple, Android, a failure to understand the importance of customer experience, or a combination of all three, BlackBerry reminds everyone how quickly a company can go from dominant to irrelevant in the age of the customer.

BlackBerry’s resurrection, should its current momentum continue, could also become a case study on how to recover after devastation. Seizing the “everything is an endpoint” momentum by focusing on the convergence of mobile, IoT, and traditional enterprise endpoints, BlackBerry has reinvented itself as a security company, with a portfolio that now includes secure messaging, hardware security, security services, and advanced endpoint security via Cylance.

True Endpoint Suites Cover More Than Desktops And Laptops Now

Unified endpoint management (UEM) represents the convergence of traditional activities such as IT operations management of end user computing devices, which includes cybersecurity technologies to secure them. For too long now, IT pros and security & risk pros have dealt with a landscape of products and services that defined endpoints and mobile devices by form factors and operating systems. That era now appears to be over. BlackBerry’s acquisition of Cylance for $1.4 billion, alongside its earlier acquisition of Good Technology and Symantec’s purchase of Appthority and Skycure, clearly indicates that security software vendors now understand that mobile must be included as part of the “suite” of endpoint software they offer to customers.

BlackBerry’s Rebuild Focuses On Acquiring Brands With Momentum

Cylance, like Good Technologies (mobile sandboxing) before it, is solid at one function: malware prevention. Its position mirrors the position of Good Technology before BB scooped it up: plenty of attention and a great market perception. Unfortunately for Good — and concerning for Cylance and its enthusiasts — it wasn’t able to continue developing the tech post-acquisition to keep it ahead of competition. Shortly after the Good acquisition, every other major competitor also built/acquired mobile sandboxing, eliminating the differentiation it once possessed. Cylance is similar in that it had a great market perception and was innovative two years ago, but today every competitor has a similar tech built into its endpoint security suite. For this to be successful, meaningful integrations between Cylance and BlackBerry’s existing UEM platform must exist to position BB as a true security-focused UEM player. That takes engineering effort and time.

The New Big Brands In Cybersecurity

In our recent report on tech trends, we discuss the emergence of Amazon, Google, and Microsoft as new players coming after cybersecurity dollars. Since that report published, Oracle announced its intention to pursue cybersecurity business with autonomous robots and something about Star Wars.

BlackBerry’s large acquisition of Cylance means it’s a great time to be a security company — but is it a great time to be a cybersecurity customer? We think yes. The amount of innovation, funding, and attention being paid to the cybersecurity market has created robust competition. While it’s tough to sort through the hype to find the reality, it’s clear that the old-guard vendors in cybersecurity have not done enough to solve our security problems. Poor user interfaces, siloed solutions, and inflexible deployment models meant we needed a new approach, and it’s arriving.

Years of attacker success also showed that our old approaches to the arms race were not leading to enough wins. Now we have new architectural approaches to designing and building environments like Zero Trust that will redefine how we build things. The battle of the brands will continue, but as things sort themselves, consolidate, and converge, it will result in better cybersecurity choices that move the industry forward — though getting there might be painful.