BlackBerry has announced that it's acquiring Good Technology — a company that it has long been in competition with in the enterprise mobile device management space. Good has always had a bit more of a multi-platform focus than BlackBerry, so the move should help the company shore up its ability to help big companies manage the devices their employees use. It also probably doesn't hurt to mention that Good has a pretty strong suite of Android device management software — and everybody's expecting BlackBerry to begin releasing Android devices itself in the very near future.
The acquisition will cost BlackBerry $425 million in cash. BlackBerry thinks that it'll close the deal by the end of November and start making money from Good's business right away, to the tune of $160 million in revenue in the first year. Although Good and BlackBerry have platforms that slightly overlap, CEO John Chen isn't too worried about that, and said on a conference call today that "It is our plan to go to one, unified platform," although he declined to pin down any specifics on when that might happen.
That's the relatively dry business story — but it doesn't cover the amusing history of Good and BlackBerry. The two companies have sparred publicly in the past. BlackBerry used to love to mark up Good's press releases with catty annotations pointing out where it believed Good was wrong. Here's one, and here's another:
Good Technology has also had a convoluted past. It was briefly owned by Motorola Mobility, who bought it in 2006 to try to compete with BlackBerry for push email. I used it myself back then, it was one of the better solutions for Windows Mobile back in the days before Microsoft figured out that maybe it would be a good idea for Exchange to support mobile devices directly. Motorola sold Good off in 2009, and the company was doing much more than just push email by then, creating a suite of device management products.
While the sniping between BlackBerry and Good is fun, it's not my favorite part of Good Technology's history. No, as an Old and a Nerd, my favorite part is pointing out that Good Technology got its start creating an MP3 expansion module for the Handspring Visor PDA back in 2000. The Visor was the predecessor to the Treo smartphone.
In other words, Good Technology was there at the beginning of the smartphone revolution, which before the iPhone meant glomming on features on top of PDAs. But all that's ancient history now and both companies have to look to the future. According to this "interview" where the executives from both companies tried to bury their hatchets, that future will including providing device management solutions for wearables.