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BlackBerry strikes out of the hardware game

Many Major League Baseball pitchers have made names for themselves with the blazing speed of their fastballs. But as pitchers age, their velocity usually dips. A great pitcher adjusts and develops other options.

When smartphones first burst on the scene, BlackBerry was firing 100 mile-an-hour fastballs with ease. But over the years, the company’s power decreased to the point where its hardware was more appropriate for a slow-pitch softball league. Now it’s admitting defeat and calling it quits in the hardware arena. The company will no longer build devices in-house, instead outsourcing the process to its partners. This week’s announcement comes on the heels of a 31.8% drop in revenue in the second quarter of 2016 compared to a year earlier, according to CBC News.

“BlackBerry can’t keep producing its own phones indefinitely just to serve a small subset of its clients addicted to its home-grown devices,” CCS Insight analyst Ben Wood told BBC News.

BlackBerry has been moving away from its weakened fastball for a while now, refocusing on enterprise mobility management (EMM) software. Its new strategy started to come together when the company acquired Good Technology a little more than a year ago. A former rival, Good turned BlackBerry’s EMM into a true strike-out pitch, adding identity management, secure file synchronization and editing, jailbreak and rooting detection, license management and secure business apps. Perhaps most importantly, it gave BlackBerry a serious chunk of EMM market share.

Even after the move toward EMM, the company made one last attempt to salvage its hardware business: Late last year it released the Priv, a Google Android device that brought back the physical keyboard BlackBerry is known for. The company followed it up with the DTEK50, a more affordable device with a touchscreen. The idea behind both devices was to combine the popularity of Android, which is flush with applications, with the security of BlackBerry. It did not work.

Even though BlackBerry’s hardware business is hanging up its cleats, the company is poised to continue making plays in the EMM game.

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