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Armchair CEO: Acquire Telegram and Leap Motion


Let’s talk about securing potentialand smartly spending your cash on hand with a prudent eye to continued operational expense, of course. If I were the BlackBerry CEO, I would most certainty put my foot down in enterprise. I’d have no intention of giving up my bread or my butter, but that doesn’t mean I’d keep my hands in my pocket either. RIM then BlackBerry, for the last 3-5 years has been very risk adverse.

BlackBerry now however has been spending a lot of money. Nearly half a billion went off the cash pile-maybe due to the short term cuts internally, but as of last earnings they also cut operating expenditures by 50%. It’s an interesting turning point and I think BlackBerry IS spending on R&D, nutrition and customer outreach, while managing the software services base and working smarter, not harder. $100 million in their NantHealth investment alone. Last year I remarked that BlackBerry could seek aid from NantWorks (now NantHealth) and just recently we saw BlackBerry taking up a minority investment in the company.

Once BlackBerry turns back into profitability, spending will likely continue and scooping up smaller companies to accelerate roll-outs will keep the momentum going forward to deliver astounding products for end-users. If we look at nearer term prospects after profitability, I would, as CEO, begin to couple some resources and decouple others. Yeah, you can “build it yourself” a lot of times but sometimes buying out smaller outfits for their talent, not products through M&A is more cost effective in the long run.


First, Let’s Buy Telegram

As it stands, there are some very unique aspects of BlackBerry that can still command a lot of value and attention. Defense is sometimes the best offense. One major unique aspect is BBM.
Telegram, however, is a smart, marketed secure, friendly IM client much like BlackBerry Messenger (actually it’s almost exactly like it from its core competencies), but Telegram understands that the bare minimum is not enough these days. They’ve done a great job of bringing a semi-open secure mobile messaging platform to the market. It does some great things like having cloud access for use across multiple devices and backup redundancies as well, if you so choose. Self destruct messages, large 1GB file transfer sizes, groups up to 200 people and a lot more. It’s arguably a better pure IM client than BBM and due to the open nature of the API, it’s easy to build clients for all sorts of devices. Desktop included. There are caveats, you must utilize your phone number, and the app isn’t as robust as BBM (the whole experience). Back in March of 2014 Telegram crossed the 35 million user milestone, to give this some scope.

BBM is poised for so much more. With the new advents of video, voice calling, screen sharing, Glympse, Dropbox and Sharing integration, BBM is still a more overall more mature solution, especially when we consider the underdeveloped BBM Channels effort and rumors of BBM Money *you see where I’m going with this?* At the helm of BlackBerry, I would see an infrastructure and application (Telegram) replicating my core features and would want them out of the equation. Through acqui-hire or otherwise, I would partner with Telegram to power the consumer-side BBM while maintaining the internal infrastructure for strictly corporate and business uses, eBBM and even a backend for QNX Cloud. Decoupling these gives me better better flexibility and stability (especially when we consider BIS legacy support). All this while allowing me to rapidly innovate BBM to seed its position, post Facebook/Whatsapp  buyout. And with 30% of BBMs 85 million active users use BBM within the enterprise, the argument of utilizing the BlackBerry Network solely for enterprises becomes even more appealing.

Focusing on BBM Money, Channels and cross platform BlackBerry Blends instead of playing catch-up with the core messaging faculties seems like a much better use of my time, money, resources and people. I need a partner to bolster BBM development and allow me to take action on the bigger picture: which is overridingly enterprise painted. A fusion of Telegram and BBM would be a boon to both sides.

Next, Let’s Buy Leap Motion

If you’ve never heard of Leap Motion, take the time to watch the video above. The Leap is a marvelous USB accessory that creates an airspace above the 3″ long device. In the airspace above the dongle, the device will transpose – in great detail – motions, angles and depth of your  interactions. You shouldn’t consider it a “Microsoft Kinect” type of dongle, I won’t make that comparison because Leap Motion is all about device interaction with your hands rather than a whole body tracking setup.

The main focus of Leap Motion is to make device interaction more human and allow us to take the everyday gestures, for instance picking up a glass, and use that interaction over into our digital world. Imagine a touch-less mouse-pad, a magnificently refined version of Samsung’s putrid ‘Air Gestures.’ Leap Motion as demonstrated in the video above is a much more refined experience, and here is why I would be aggressively seeking to acquire…

Mobile computing: Embedded interface devices, automobile infotainment, and computer peripherals. Direct hardware contact has always been apart of that equation. Leap Motion separates us from this and can allow the natural interactions that are built into our muscle memory to direct user experience, not a framework of options. Point and click will never be the same. Smartwatches, wrist-brands, and other wearables could greatly appreciate the integration of such technology.

Imagine at a stop light being able to have fine control over a GPS route just by spreading your thumb and pointer finger apart  in front of your dash navigation, without having to touch or talk, with your focus more concentrated on the road ahead, everyone in their seats but able to directly engage with the interfaces around them. Without touch.

Leap Motion would not be cheap by any means. They just finished round-B funding for $30m back in January of 2013 and have been selling their product for almost a year now, with a growing application catalog of tailored experiences. Their product The Leap, at present, is a lot like a miniature touch free console experience, but it’s hardly just a toy.

Leap Motion is already working to embed with HP computers, and has also struck a deal with ASUS–as well, they are working with OEMs to integrate into mobile devices by the end of 2014. This technology if integrated correctly is a huge leap for interactions and would be a great asset to BlackBerry/QNX Software Systems and the Machine to Machine push–as well as allow BlackBerry to create unique touchless productivity tools for regulated customers in medical financial, data security and enterprise. Minority Report meet Network Operating Center.

But I’m not the CEO. And likely these strategies would be shot down if brought up inside BlackBerry. I doubt they are seriously on the hunt for companies to ingrain and are much more focused on making money before spending money. Likely doing what they can with the 7,000 they have left will prove a formidable task, but I still believe they’re hardly done fighting for their place in our world.

*For more great ideas regarding how BlackBerry can adapt and deliver a better experience to their end users check out BerryFlow Confluence. 11 writers collect their desires for the future of $BBRY.

James Nieves

Author James Nieves

Manning the helm here @BBRYFLOW. Feel free to shoot me an email.

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  • blogpedia

    Hi James, BlackBerry current strategy is to invest in areas where BlackBerry can create synergies by bringing value to the table that is accretive to both parties. In the near term I don’t think both of these will materialize m.

    BTW: Off topic – excellent interview with Jubei, I hope he is coming on board with you. Mr. Chen needs to give you all the support that you very much deserve.

    • jmznvs

      This entire conversation is one for after BlackBerry turns back on profitability. Which is stated clearly above. Near term I would hope these do no materialize.

      Jubei has multiple offers on the table it will be up to him to decide where he fits in best, I have faith he’ll make a wise decision!

    • blogpedia

      Even when BlackBerry turns profitable I don’t think they will buy Telegram; because integration is one of the toughest jobs (as it involves multiple facets – technical, cultural, etc.). Second, given the recent acquisition price of Whatsapp, it is very likely that BlackBerry will have to pay a very high price. Frankly, unless BlackBerry does something innovative on BBM I don’t see how they are going to win back the market share on the enterprise side. At this time, Consumer market is all but lost as far as BBM is concerned – I sincerely hope that I am proven to be wrong; over last two years I have seen that BlackBerry has taken too many missteps including the all round fiasco during the launch.

      As far as Leap Motion is concerned, I think, the best BlackBerry might do is to take a minority stake.

      Anyway, time will tell how things shape up BlackBerry.

      I think, we will see more acquisition/ investments in the area of IoT.