Reuters

(Reuters)

BlackBerry Makes Buys Movirtu to Woo More Corporate Customers

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BlackBerry Ltd said on Thursday it has acquired Movirtu, a provider of virtual identity solutions, as part of its move to continue building out its portfolio of value-added services that cater to the needs of its core base of corporate and government clients.

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Waterloo, Ontario-based BlackBerry said Movirtu's virtual SIM technology allows an individual to have both a personal and business number on a single mobile device, with separate billing for voice, data and messaging usage on each number.

This allows employees to switch between work and personal profiles easily without carrying multiple devices or SIM cards.

"Clearly this fits nicely within the strategy we have so far articulated. We are building recurring revenue streams in value-added services and providing more value to enterprises" the head of BlackBerry's enterprise unit John Sims said in an interview.

The terms of the transaction were not disclosed.

The company, which dominated the smartphone market in its infancy, has been re-shaping itself over the course of the last year as its devices have lost ground to Apple's iPhone and a slew of rival devices powered by Google's Android operating system.

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Under the leadership of its new chief executive John Chen, the company has moved rapidly to stabilize itself by selling non-core assets, partnering to make its manufacturing and supply chain more efficient, and raising cash via the sale of its vast real estate holdings.

Chen, a well-regarded turnaround artist in the tech sector, intends to remain a competitor in the smartphone arena, but is focused on re-shaping the company to build on its core strengths in areas like mobile data security and mobile device management.

The company has been making small acquisitions in the last few months, as it looks to build out its offerings for so-called enterprise clients that comprise primarily of large corporations and government agencies that are in many cases still major users of Blackberry devices.

In July, it announced it was buying Secusmart, a privately held German firm that specializes in voice and data encryption, in an attempt to burnish its credentials with highly security-conscious clients like government ‎agencies.

BlackBerry said the acquisition of Movirtu complements its Secure Work Space, BlackBerry Balance and other offerings, which give many employees the freedom and privacy they want for their personal use while delivering the security and management needed for business use of smartphone devices.

Sims, who spoke with Reuters at an industry conference in Las Vegas, said he sees mobile device management as a commoditized space currently with rivals like Good Technology and AirWatch jumping into the fray. He stressed, however, that BlackBerry plans to stay ahead of the game by offering value-added services like the ones acquired via the Movirtu and Secusmart deals.