Since taking charge of BlackBerry last year, John Chen has begun refocusing the business on healthcare and other industries with specialized requirements. And evidence of just how deep BlackBerry plans to get into healthcare emerged this week when the company outlined plans for a smartphone tailored to the industry.
Jim Mackey, BlackBerry's head of corporate development and strategic planning, divulged details of the smartphone in an interview with Reuters to discuss the company's investment in NantHealth, a health IT and trial technology provider. BlackBerry will work with NantHealth to develop the phone, which Mackey expects to launch in early 2015 at the latest. The device will have the standard features consumers expect from a smartphone--and be available to the public--but BlackBerry will market it on its healthcare-specific capabilities.
"It will be optimized for viewing 3D images and CT scans," Mackey told Reuters. And BlackBerry will tap into its experience with secure communication to meet the privacy demands of healthcare. Messaging service BBM Protected could be used by doctors to talk to patients, while BlackBerry will also support medical software from NantHealth on its devices. NantHealth offers a clinical trial management system as part of its clinical operating system, a platform that integrates data from multiple sources. Biotech billionaire and Abraxis BioScience founder Patrick Soon-Shiong is behind NantHealth.
Soon-Shiong told re/code BlackBerry's investment was "strategic" but declined to say how much the Canadian tech firm was committing.
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