BlackBerry once ruled the mobile market, but after losing most of its mainstream consumers over to Apple and Android the company will return to its roots with an upcoming “Q20” Classic meant for enterprise. At the same time, it looks like BlackBerry may target another niche market with a new device focused on healthcare, Reuters reports.
The Waterloo company recently acquired a minority stake in NantHealth, a private IT firm with a focus on improving healthcare service through technology. The California-based startup is also working on ways to sync medical devices and easily share digital health records, suggesting BlackBerry could release the ultimate doctor’s smartphone later this year or in early 2015. The device should be available in stores, but will offer several features including 3D images and CT scans clearly meant for medical professionals.
Healthcare may seem like a bizarre new direction for BlackBerry, but CEO John Chen argues that BlackBerry and NantHealth actually match up nicely. “NantHealth is a proven innovator in developing leading platforms that allow medical professionals to share information and deliver care efficiently,” he said. “BlackBerry’s capabilities align closely with NantHealth’s and this investment represents the type of forward-looking opportunities that are vital to our future.”
With Google, Apple and Samsung all clearly invested in health and fitness technology, BlackBerry needs to make sure it doesn’t fall even further behind its competition. Investing in a healthcare technology could give Waterloo an edge in the coming years at a time when it sorely needs an advantage over the rest of the industry.