5 Companies That Came To Win This Week

The Week Ending April 18

This week's roundup of companies that came to win include a savvy acquisition by BlackBerry, Samsung's plans to offer its own mobile OS, a bid by Zebra Technologies to become a major Internet of Things player, new Wi-Fi service opportunities for the channel from Ruckus, and IBM's plans to boost incentives for its SoftLayer channel partners.

BlackBerry Invests In Cloud-Based Medical IT Provider

In what could prove to be a very savvy move, BlackBerry this week invested an undisclosed amount in NantHealth, a cloud-based medical IT company that specializes in connecting medical devices to share digital health-care records. BlackBerry and NantHealth will collaborate to expand in the health-care market.

Given BlackBerry's secure network, selling mobile devices for medical professionals seems like a natural fit for the smartphone company as it tries to turn itself around. "This investment represents the type of forward-looking opportunities that are vital to our future," said BlackBerry CEO John Chen in a statement.

Samsung Set To Challenge Google Android With Tizen OS

Samsung this week said it would begin selling smartphones running its own Tizen operating system by the end of the second quarter. The gutsy move is a direct challenge to Google's Android mobile operating system that dominates the smartphone market.

Partners cheered the move, saying it could drive more innovation in the smartphone arena. In addition to freeing Samsung from rules and restrictions that surround Android and its product release cycle, Samsung will be able to more tightly integrate its own OS with its smartphone hardware. That should put the company in more control of its own destiny.

Zebra Bids To Become An Internet Of Things Heavyweight

Zebra Technologies struck a deal this week to buy Motorola Solutions' enterprise business for $3.45 billion. Zebra, which had $1 billion in sales last year, will acquire Motorola's robust mobile computing and data capture communications technologies and services.

Zebra also is gaining thousands of critical sensor and bar-code patents in the transaction. Once the acquisition is complete later this year, Zebra will become a major player in the nascent Internet of Things arena with some 20,000 channel partners.

New Cloud Wi-Fi Service From Ruckus Offers Partner Opportunities

Ruckus Wireless this week expanded its cloud services portfolio with a hosted Wi-Fi service that provides the company's channel partners with new upsell and recurring revenue opportunities.

The new Ruckus Smart Wi-Fi Access Management Service provides Wi-Fi as a subscription-based service, giving customers an alternative to building out on-site Wi-Fi infrastructure. Solution providers can offer the service as part of their managed services portfolio and create greater stickiness with their customers.

IBM Steps Up Investment In SoftLayer Cloud Partners

IBM may be hurting in the hardware department, but the company is taking steps to boost its cloud services business -- and it's turning to its channel partners for help. The goal is to grow the number of SoftLayer channel-led accounts from 40 percent to 50 percent by the end of this year.

The company this week said it's updating its SoftLayer partner program to boost partner margins on monthly recurring sales, dedicating more money to channel co-marketing funds, and expanding in-person training opportunities for partners.