BlackBerry Acquires Crisis Comms Firm AtHoc

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BlackBerry snaps up communications provider despite major recent layoffs

BlackBerry has not let its painful restructuring get in the way of its acquisition strategy, having today confirmed the purchase of communications firm AtHoc.

Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed, but the deal will give BlackBerry a “leading provider of secure, networked crisis communications,” it says.

Crisis Communications

haiti2AtHoc’s software platform allows for the exchange of “critical information in real time during business continuity and life safety operations.”

Customers include the US Departments of Defense and Homeland Security, US Coast Guard, and the American Red Cross among others. It also works with public and private enterprises including healthcare providers and industrial facilities.

The deal will allow AdHoc to expand and increase its scale, “as well as deliver new applications on a secure platform for mass communication.” This means for example that it could could integrate AtHoc solutions with BBM Meetings during an alert “to enable live video feeds or transmit messages to provide real-time collaboration by leaders and decision makers.”

AtHoc’s crisis communications platform works on any device, including Apple iOS, Android, PC and Mac desktops, digital displays, radios, IP phones, and endpoints such as sirens, fire panels and speakers. That said, there is no mention of Windows Phone support.

“BlackBerry is making strategic investments in security, privacy and the Internet of Things, and acquiring AtHoc will enable us to provide a holistic, end-to-end approach to communications,” said John Chen, BlackBerry executive chairman and CEO.

In April the company launched an initiative aimed at securing “Internet of Things” devices, part of a broader effort at BlackBerry to manage “anything with an IP (address)”.

“We have a proud history of securing mission-critical communications for the public sector as well as enterprises operating in the most highly regulated industries,” said Chen. “AtHoc’s technology and expertise will play a key role as BlackBerry works to connect and secure a broad range of endpoints.”

“AtHoc and BlackBerry share a common vision of a securely connected world,” added Guy Miasnik, AtHoc president and CEO.

“Federal departments, state and local agencies, and commercial enterprises alike depend on AtHoc to communicate reliably during their most critical moments,” said Miasnik. “Becoming part of BlackBerry will give us the ability to scale more quickly to expand our global reach and introduce new applications for the AtHoc platform, while continuing to serve our government and enterprise customers.”

The transaction is expected to be completed in BlackBerry’s 2016 fiscal third quarter and is subject to the usual closing conditions.

Painful Times

The deal comes at a sensitive time for BlackBerry. Earlier this week it revealed another round of job cuts as it continues to struggle in the highly competitive mobile arena.

The company announced a previous round of layoffs in May, and once again the company refused to disclose how many people will lose their jobs in this latest round of job cuts.

BlackBerry has been restructuring itself in recent times to focus on software for mobile device management and security for businesses and government bodies. Its mobile management software is now capable of managing iOS and Android devices as well as its own handsets.

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Author: Tom Jowitt
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