(Reuters) – BlackBerry Ltd has acquired a U.K.-based mobile technology start-up whose software allows users to have multiple phone numbers on the same device, the Canadian tech company said on Thursday.
The purchase of Movirtu helps BlackBerry ramp up its portfolio of services to cater to the needs of its core base of corporate and government clients. Terms of the transaction were not disclosed.
Movirtu’s virtual SIM technology allows an individual to have both a personal and business number on a single mobile device, with separate billing for voice, data and messaging usage on each number.
This allows employees to switch between work and personal profiles easily without carrying multiple devices or SIM cards.
“Clearly this fits nicely within the strategy we have so far articulated. We are building recurring revenue streams in value-added services and providing more value to enterprises,” John Sims, the head of BlackBerry’s enterprise unit, said in an interview.
Sims said Movirtu’s technology would allow IT administrators, for example, to restrict calls and emails to a work number after a particular time, without blocking personal calls or emails to the same device.
Movirtu is a portfolio company of British venture capital firm TLcom Capital and the U.S.-based Gray Ghost Ventures. TLcom led a US$5.5 million Series A investment in Movirtu in November 2010. Gray Ghost, which had invested previously in the company, also joined the Series A round.
BlackBerry, which dominated the smartphone market in its infancy, has been reshaping itself over the course of the last year as its devices have lost ground to Apple‘s iPhone and a slew of rival devices powered by Google‘s Android operating system.
Under the leadership of its new chief executive, John Chen, the company has moved rapidly to stabilize itself by selling certain assets, partnering to make its manufacturing and supply chain more efficient, and raising cash via the sale of its real estate holdings.
Chen, a well-regarded turnaround artist in the tech sector, intends to remain a competitor in the smartphone arena, but is focused on reshaping the company to build on its core strengths in areas such as mobile data security and mobile device management.
The company has been making small acquisitions in the last few months, as it looks to build out its offerings for so-called enterprise clients made up primarily of large corporations and government agencies that are in many cases still major users of Blackberry devices.
In July, the company announced it was buying Secusmart, a privately held German company that specializes in voice and data encryption, in an attempt to burnish its credentials with security-conscious clients such as government agencies.
Sims, who spoke with Reuters at an industry conference in Las Vegas, said he sees mobile device management as a commoditized space with rivals including Good Technology and AirWatch jumping into the fray. He stressed, though, that BlackBerry plans to stay ahead of the game by offering value-added services such as the ones acquired via the Movirtu and Secusmart deals.
(Reporting by Euan Rocha and Alina Selyukh; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and Chris Reese)
(This story has been edited by Kirk Falconer, editor of peHUB Canada)
Photo courtesy of Reuters/Mark Blinch