BlackBerry's Q2 benefits from security demand amid remote work shifts

BlackBerry CEO John Chen has his reservations about productivity and innovation if everyone worked from home, but the trend is helping his business.
Written by Larry Dignan, Contributor

BlackBerry's fiscal second quarter was better than expected largely due to its Spark security software suites, which have seen strong demand due to the remote work trend.

The company, which provides security, device management and software for automobiles and infotainment systems, reported a second quarter net loss of 4 cents a share on revenue of $259 million. Non-GAAP earnings for the quarter were 11 cents a share to top estimates by 9 cents a share.

BlackBerry didn't provide an outlook for fiscal 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The company said it saw recovery in its QNX business, which was hampered by a decrease in auto production.

CEO John Chen, however, did note that QNX was landing design wins and positioned well for the future.

But much of the focus was on BlackBerry's Spark business.

Chen said:

The Spark Suites combine Blackberry unified endpoint management, the UEM, and unified endpoint security, the UES. We combined the 2 products in one single pane of glass. The Spark Suites were launched at the end of our first fiscal quarter, and since then, customer interest has been strong and demand is growing. In the quarter, a number of high-profile customer purchases our Spark Suite, including the United States Air Force, which upgraded over 90,000 users from UEM to a Spark Suite. Other wins including U.K. Ministry of Defense, Royal Canadian Mint, Anko, Banco de México, New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Trade, Rolls Royce, Lloyds Bank, Société Générale and Mitsubishi, just to name a few.

Chen said BlackBerry continues to see momentum for its Spark Suite due to work from anywhere arrangements and the security BlackBerry provides.

The irony of BlackBerry's security success is that it is driven by remote work, a trend that Chen isn't thrilled about.

Personally, I believe if everybody worked from home forever, it will hurt productivity. It will hurt innovation. But I think there will be a hybrid model that's being developed.

Nevertheless, BlackBerry's Chen said demand for mobile and endpoint security will remain strong as working arrangements are worked out.

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