BlackBerry joins forces for 'spy-proof' SecuTABLET

BlackBerry introduced the SecuTABLET at the CeBIT tech conference. BlackBerry made a name for itself in security, but can it turn itself around in the stagnant market?

Lefteris Pitarakis
File - Blackberry's employees prepare the launch event for the company's new smartphones in London.

Many have written off BlackBerry as a diminishing presence in the tech world, but the once-popular Canadian phonemaker refuses to go out quietly. While the tablet industry appears to be on a downward slope, BlackBerry decided to take another crack at finding its footing in the market.

At CeBIT, a global technology conference hosted in Germany, BlackBerry introduced the SecuTABLET, a “spy-proof” device created in a partnership with Samsung and IBM.

The SecuTABLET is a fusion of hardware and software from the three different companies. It uses a Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.5 with Secusmart micro SD card and IBM software that “wraps applications” that contain sensitive information into a “virtual container” where malware and other unwanted software cannot touch it, according to Bloomberg. This allows for the device to run personal apps such as Facebook or WhatsApp, without fear of malicious attacks on business files.

The company expects to ship approximately 10,000 units annually at €2,250 ($2,360) apiece. The secure tablet is being marketed to governments and businesses, which will close the “supply gap” for those who want a larger screen without the security breaches, says Stefan Hefter, a senior management consultant with IBM, in an interview with the Financial Post.

“Security is ingrained in every part of BlackBerry’s portfolio, which includes voice and data encryption solutions,” says Hans-Christoph Quelle, chief executive officer of Secusmart, in a press release. “National and international government customers have entrusted their voice and data communications with the Secusmart Security Card for years. This same technology is what secures the new SecuTABLET.”

Secusmart, a German-based company acquired by BlackBerry late last year, has been supplying BlackBerry smart phones with its technology since 2013, but this will be the first time the software will be made available for tablets.

The device is still awaiting security grading and approval by the German Federal Office for Information Security for clearance on a classified level, but is expected to hit shelves by next year, according to Bloomberg.

This is not BlackBerry's first attempt at a tablet. In 2011, the company debuted the BlackBerry PlayBook to disappointing sales and mediocre reviews. The tablet was eventually discontinued, but there are rumors that BlackBerry may attempt a PlayBook 2 for average consumers.

That said, one of the more interesting aspects of this secure device is the fact that Samsung is involved. The two companies were reportedly in secretive talks about Samsung spending $7.5 billion to buyout BlackBerry, which were later shot down and led to a US government probe into a corresponding spike BlackBerry's stock.

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