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The Canadian company has made several other security acquisitions in recent years, but none as large as the Cylance deal announced on Friday. At over $1 billion, the move is a surprisingly large one, indicating the Blackberry will move further away from its devices, which still underpin a number of the company's existing enterprise security deals.
Blackberry has made a rapid transition from a once-ubiquitous corporate smartphone provider, to a niche hardware player — and has become a nearly pure-play cybersecurity firm in less than five years.
Cylance is a well-established cybersecurity firm that provides antivirus, endpoint protection, original equipment manufacturing (OEM) and supply-chain security products. Cylance has around 100 subscriber-clients within the Fortune 500, and 3,500 enterprise clients, according to the statement from Blackberry. The company also has business in state and federal government agencies. Cylance will remain a separate business unit within Blackberry, according to the company.
In recent years, Blackberry has pulled resources away from its smartphone business, halting in-house manufacturing of the keyboard-and-screen handheld in 2016. It then shifted its focus to enterprise security software, chip-level security products for "endpoints" — including Android and iOS smartphones — and protection for the range of devices that fall into the "internet of things" (IoT). Blackberry has also focused its business on some of the biggest-ticket IoT devices, including connected cars.
The acquisition of Cylance, which has a security consulting business, may also give Blackberry more reach in the area of cybersecurity advisory services. Last year, Blackberry acquired U.K. security consulting firm Encription, in a deal with undisclosed terms.
It's not unusual for a non-security company known for some aspect of cybersecurity to attempt to grow its business in the increasingly lucrative space. However, Blackberry is one of the first companies to make a sharp and complete turn into a software and consulting cybersecurity business from a hardware background.