Surely by now you’ve heard about the” cloud”. To most, it’s some magical thing that stores and processes information for our convenience (and for a company’s profit). Sure, Dropbox stores our files for our convenience, Facebook stores our digital lives for others to see, and so on, but there is so much more to life than files and status updates.
What is needed is an underlying platform that enables the cloud to encompass a vast array of devices and the information they produce.
Yet the “cloud” that we use today is more of a bunch of clouds, all oblivious to each other’s existence and other devices. Try and collect data from more than one type of device and the IT headaches begin. What is needed is an underlying platform that enables the cloud to encompass a vast array of devices and the information they produce. This is the idea behind the “internet of things” (lazily abbreviated as IoT).
This of course, is technically possible with today’s technology. Light switches, thermostats, cars, fridges, and door locks have all been given data connectivity, so the physical elements exist. Unfortunately, the software implementation isn’t really in place. If you’ve got bags of money lying around, I’m sure someone would be glad to build you a custom system where almost anything is possible. But for the average person, as the number of devices you connect together increases, the cost becomes astronomical very quickly. This is also more of a LAN, instead of an internet-style configuration.
The issue lies in getting everyday things to speak the same language, or at least to have a clever interpreter between it all to translate. The first option would likely be wishful thinking, but the second is potentially achievable. Where the internet relies on IP addresses to connect one computer to another, the IoT would allow the transmission of relevant data between one object and another, or through a cloud and processed accordingly. The IoT is quite a futuristic concept that has been around for a while, but is finally beginning to take shape.
BlackBerry’s take on realizing the IoT is called Project Ion (I know, it sounds like a top-secret government experiment). Project Ion, from the little we know about it, is primarily a new application platform designed to enable the management and processing of huge quantities of data from a vast array of devices. And just in case you’ve been wondering; it’s not designed for you.
Project Ion is designed to help companies accumulate and process data from a variety of sources so they can make informed business decisions that were otherwise not possible. This information can be from fridges, phones, cars, computers, lights, TVs, media centers, cameras, etc., and it all is designed to give companies some insight into crucial questions such as where to set up shop, what products to offer, who their clients are, and how much money potential customers have.
As you can imagine, the ability to harness the connected nature of the data-enabled devices and the information they perpetually collect is incredibly valuable to companies who are naturally striving to make the best business decisions.
What you may be wondering is when you get to check your car’s next oil change date from your beside alarm clock, or to turn on your BBQ from your phone. After all, isn’t that what this talk about the IoT is all about? Well, not exactly. While that would be cool, we aren’t quite there yet. And more importantly, that’s not what BlackBerry will be focusing on.
BlackBerry is now (for real this time) focusing on business and enterprise products and solutions. This allows them to use their strengths to generate real value. It turns out that BlackBerry can create the most value by catering to enterprise, largely due to their strength in security and reliability when it comes to communications and information.
With BlackBerry in a strong position to lead the way for secure and controlled IoT cloud platform for enterprise, the future for the company is looking brighter than it has been in a while.
The IoT era will come whether we like it or not, and BlackBerry is an excellent position to create a secure foundation for enterprise applications of such data. Unfortunately for the consumer (can I say “prosumer”?) customers of BlackBerry, Project Ion likely means very little. What it means for BlackBerry is quite significant, however. With BlackBerry in a strong position to lead the way for secure and controlled IoT cloud platform for enterprise, the future for the company is looking brighter than it has been in a while. A success for BlackBerry in such a large market would strengthen BlackBerry’s ability to continue producing devices, including consumer devices that many (such as myself) have come to love.
Though BlackBerry 10 has come very far in such a short period of time, consumer mobile devices is not where the company will find the most value at this time. Project Ion is likely the final frontier for BlackBerry, who is now transitioning from securing the information between smartphones to securing the entire IoT. This high-margin business is a natural fit for BlackBerry’s DNA and is their raison d’être in the mobile world.