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CRN Exclusive: BlackBerry's COO Promises Partners Will Be Involved In Samsung Pact

BlackBerry COO Marty Beard says the company's new pact with Samsung will include partners and that building up those relationships is one of CEO John Chen's 'top three strategic goals.'

In the past four months, BlackBerry has made a number of moves aimed at turning around its declining market share. This includes launching two enterprise-focused smartphones, releasing a flurry of business-focused apps, unveiling the biggest iPhone trade-in program to date, and striking a partnership with Samsung, the top smartphone vendor in the world.

The partnership between BlackBerry and Samsung was unveiled in late November and involves the two companies selling each other's security technology to enterprise customers.

Although BlackBerry executives remain mum on the details and specifics of channel partner incentives, they have said partners will be involved in the deal and that the channel is a major part of the company's turnaround plan.

[Related: BlackBerry Launches The Classic, Looking To Build On Loyal Customer Base]

"We haven't talked about partner incentives yet as we are in the very early stages," BlackBerry COO Marty Beard told CRN. "Right now it's just the first step. You'll definitely see more coming down the line. Generally, the channel is just a huge focus for the company across both our device and our software business. There is a lot of new executive talent who has done our partnering very successfully with VARs, with resellers, etc., so just stay tuned. It's kind of the early days, but it's becoming a much bigger part."

Beard described the company's focus to build upon its channel as a major priority for the company.

"We are looking to build on what we have already and hugely expand," he said. "This is a top three strategic goal for [CEO John Chen] and the team. The channel is a big focus for the company. It's huge. Also, with value-added distributors, like Ingram Micro is a good example. We obviously want a much bigger channel for our products."

Beard was referring to BlackBerry's news Wednesday at its BlackBerry Classic launch event that it had inked a partnership with Ingram Micro. Ingram Micro Mobility will distribute BlackBerry Enterprise Bundles, including the Secure Productivity Bundle consisting of VPN Authentication by BlackBerry, BBM Protected, BlackBerry Blend for Enterprise and Advantage Level Support. The second bundle Ingram Micro will distribute is the Enterprise Communicator Bundle, featuring BBM Meetings, BBM Protected and Advantage Level Support.

BES12 is BlackBerry's cross-platform EMM solution that is sold through its reseller channel.

"It's a large company that is going through a transition and trying to find their market again," said Rick Jordan, director of mobile sales at Tenet Computer Group, a Toronto-based solution provider and longtime BlackBerry partner. "We're seeing a lot of our corporate clients that are zeroing in on the BlackBerry and its devices. People will fall in love with Samsung and the Android and Apple and iOS, but BlackBerry is doing the right thing and listening to what people are asking for.

"They are moving in the right direction with Chen at the helm. What's key for everyone to look at is that they are focused. If you look at the Passport, if you look at the Classic, they are bringing back the cool factor. Additionally, there is a reason why Obama still uses a Blackberry. It's because it's secure," said Jordan.

The BlackBerry Classic s a combination of older features that drew users to the company years ago, in addition to upgraded internal specs. It's not in competition with any phablets as it has a 3.5-inch HD display but it has 22 hours of battery life, the company said, and an improved QWERTY keyboard, giving the device a familiar look.

"It's really exciting to have the name of 'Classic' and pay homage to where BlackBerry's roots are in business-friendly smartphones," said Robby Hill, founder and CEO of HillSouth, a Florence, S.C.-based BlackBerry partner. "It's interesting to see what adoption rate they get. I think the specs are on par with a lot of the major phones that are out there. They need to market this thing aggressively and get some adoption out there. People need to want to carry it into their IT department and ask for it to be activated. It's been a long time since a phone has been released with a keyboard that is as business-friendly as this one, and it is on the most secure platform in the world right now. It's security with all the bells and whistles of a modern smartphone."


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