BlackBerry confirmed that, as of today, November 30 2015, it will no longer collaborate with the Pakistan markets, after the government’s continued demand to monitor user data on the Canadian company’s service.
That is not fresh news though. Back in July, PTA (Pakistan Telecommunications Authority) stated that it would shutter all BES (BlackBerry Enterprise Services) for security reasons.
The main issue seemed to be BlackBerry’s encryption used on emails, BBM messages and other sensitive data, which was considered of vital importance for national security reasons.
So far, the company was keeping silence which it recently broke, announcing that after the launch of its first Android phone it will leave Pakistan’s smartphone market – which consists of 180 million consumers.
BlackBerry COO Marty Beard explained more in a blog post:
The truth is that the Pakistani government wanted the ability to monitor all BlackBerry Enterprise Service traffic in the country, including every BES e-mail and BES BBM message. But BlackBerry will not comply with that sort of directive. As we have said many times, we do not support “back doors” granting open access to our customers’ information and have never done this anywhere in the world.
Pakistan’s demand was not a question of public safety; we are more than happy to assist law enforcement agencies in investigations of criminal activity. Rather, Pakistan was essentially demanding unfettered access to all of our BES customers’ information. The privacy of our customers is paramount to BlackBerry, and we will not compromise that principle.
What’s more interesting is that while the PTA was only after BES, BlackBerry withdrew its Internet Services (BIS) as well.
“Pakistan’s demand for open access to monitor a significant swath of our customers’ communications within its borders left us no choice but to exit the country entirely,” Beard added.
The exact number of BlackBerry customers in Pakistan is not known, so it is hard to estimate the impact that the company’s exit will have. However, we do know for sure that the Canadian manufacturer is seeing an all-time low performance in profits, even in flourishing markets where it used to lead.
The reason for that lies to Android smartphones, which along with a large ecosystem, hundreds of millions of apps and a plethora of branches, have managed to steal a share from all other manufacturers.
The company has faced similar problems in the past in India, the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia and Indonesia. However, the services of the company were resumed under more limitations. So no accurate forecasts can be given neither for the company’s nor for Pakistan’s future on the smartphone industry.