Blackberry buys London startup Movirtu

Lynsey Barber
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Blackberry buys London startup (Source: Getty)

Is this a sign of things to come for the new, leaner Blackberry? The embattled mobile manufacturer has bought Movirtu, a London-based mobile software startup, to target smartphone users who increasingly use a single device for personal calls and business.

Movirtu provides a virtual mobile platform which enables users to have more than one mobile phone number connected to a single Sim card and bills the calls, data and messaging made on each separately.

Blackberry is betting that the service, to be offered to customers from early next year, will appeal to businesses whose staff want to manage work and personal calls on a single device.

Blackberry chief John Chen said:

In a BYOD [bring your own device] and COPE [corporate owned personally enabled] world, there remain a number of efficiency and convenience challenges facing enterprises, employees and mobile operators alike.

The acquisition of Movirtu complements our core strategy of providing additional value added services, and it will leverage our key assets, including our BES [BlackBerry Enterprise Service] platform, along with our existing global infrastructure which is connected to a large number of mobile operators around the world.

Terms of the deal have not been disclosed.

The six-year-old startup is backed by Gray Ghost Ventures and TLcom Capital Partners and already has partnerships with a number of businesses including HP and IBM.

The acquisition will expand Movirtu’s reach, said chief Carsten Brinkschulte, giving it access to Blackberry’s existing relationships with mobile networks around the world.

BlackBerry is the best partner to help us carry forward our vision of redefining the mobile experience by introducing virtual identities. We address the challenges of BYOD and COPE by providing our unique and innovative technology solution through BlackBerry’s existing relationships with mobile operators and customers around the world.

Movirtu’s management team will join Blackberry with Brinkschulte leading them as senior vice president of enhanced network services at the Canadian firm.

The acquisition is part of Chen's growth plans to return the struggling smartphone maker back to profit after a significant period of cost-cutting measures.

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