BlackBerry has taken an undisclosed stake in NantHealth, a US firm specialising in cloud and mobile-based health services, as part of its strategy to beef up its enterprise business.
In addition, the two companies will jointly develop new services to which BlackBerry will contribute its QNX operating system and BBM Protected, its proposed secure messaging service.
The partners will also release a health sector-specific smartphone later this year or early in 2015, according to Reuters.
The move fits with comments made by BlackBerry CEO Chen during Mobile World Congress that the vendor might develop vertical-specific devices. Healthcare was the sector he mentioned as having potential for such a device.
NantHealth is the vehicle of Dr Patrick Soon-Shiong (pictured) who made a fortune in pharmaceuticals before diversifying into health IT. NantHealth’s IT platform is installed in about 250 US hospitals.
BlackBerry is not NantHealth’s first liaision with the mobile industry. US operator Verizon made an investment in NantHealth back in 2012.
And Vodafone signed an MoU with parent NantWorks the previous year to develop mobile data services for remote patient care.
Health is one of the sectors in which BlackBerry CEO John Chen is keen to build up BlackBerry’s enterprise business, for instance by emphasising secure messaging for handling sensitive patient data.
The size and scale of BlackBerry’s investment was not revealed.