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Does BlackBerry finally know what it’s doing again?

BlackBerry NantHealth Startup Investment

It’s way too early to declare BlackBerry on the comeback trail, but Wired nonetheless finds a lot to like in the company’s recent investment in health tech startup NantHealth, a move that the publication calls BlackBerry’s “first good idea in years.” Why is this particular investment such a good idea? As Wired explains, it’s a sign that BlackBerry has really and truly thrown in the towel trying to compete with Apple and Google and is instead focussing on niche markets where its core strengths are actually valued.

“After years of lousy calls and stubborn attempts to stay relevant with consumers, the NantHealth investment is a promising sign that BlackBerry is doubling down on niche markets — the one place where demand for its technology still exists,” Wired writes. “BlackBerry has a reputation for strong security. That strength, Chen is hoping, will make BlackBerry more appealing to regulated spaces like healthcare, financial services, and even governments.”

This lines up with just about everything we’ve seen since Chen took over as CEO last year: He’s conceded that BlackBerry’s handset business is toast as far as consumer markets in North America and Europe go and is instead tailoring new phones to appeal mainly to the physical keyboard-loving diehards who have stuck by the company through years of epic debacles under the previous management. At the same time, Chen has moved more aggressively to shore up BlackBerry’s business in the enterprise space by emphasizing BlackBerry’s ability to deliver cross-platform mobile security services.

Whether this will work out for the company is anyone’s guess but BlackBerry under Chen’s leadership does seem a lot more focussed on playing to its core strengths instead of trying to play a constant game of catch-up with Apple and Google.

Prior to joining BGR as News Editor, Brad Reed spent five years covering the wireless industry for Network World. His first smartphone was a BlackBerry but he has since become a loyal Android user.