Could BlackBerry be a big winner from the successful iPhone hack by US authorities?

Could BlackBerry be a big winner from the successful iPhone hack by US authorities?

The stand-off between Apple and federal investigators in the US has arguably been the main talking point in the debate surrounding data privacy and security.

Apple had initially refused to help the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) unlock an iPhone allegedly belonging to a man involved in the San Bernardino shooting.

Investigators eventually bypassed the security of the hardware to gain the information they needed, which if anything only further emphasised the importance of the debate.

But while it is likely to be seen as blow to Apple, some experts have suggested other companies, including BlackBerry may well benefit, allowing it to draw a “line in the sand” on government access.

Security at the heart of BlackBerry's appeal

While BlackBerry has shown signs of persevering with hardware with the recent release of the Priv – the company's first ever handset to run on Android – the brand recovered primarily through offering one of the most secure mobile platforms around.

In a blog post, company chief John Chen said: “Security is what we do. Privacy is what you get. We have the most trusted networks outside of the carriers themselves. It is what we offer, and how we think about our business."

The BES10 platform attracted plenty of plaudits for its apparent superior security features, handing BlackBerry a reputation for being at the forefront of security and data privacy.

There have been some similarities between the company and Apple, most notably the fact that both companies have denied government requests for so-called backdoor software that would allow investigators to access a phone’s data without company assistance.

However, BlackBerry insists this commitment does not apply in cases of clear criminality.

Setting a precedent

The successful hack of the iPhone 5G used by Syed Farook not only ensures Apple avoids a courtroom battle with the U.S. Justice Department, but it could also have set a precedent on security.

A lengthy legal battle with federal investigators will have been the last thing Apple would have wanted, but the fact remains they are now faced with the prospect of trying to sell a product that has already proven itself to have a security flaw, which some analysts suspect to have been exploited with the help of a third-party company.

Technology analyst Carmi Levy told BNN in a recent interview: “Apple has got a problem now. Apple is no longer the one controlling the agenda of who gets into its phones. Some third party is.

“Next time the FBI, CSIS, or any other law enforcement agency [is] not even going to bother with a warrant for Apple. They are going to go to that third party and ask for their help.”

At the same time, BlackBerry has been on something of a buying spree, boosting its security capabilities through acquiring a number of security solution providers over the last 18 months.

Blackberry has subsequently put itself in a strong position, showcasing an ability to combine its core security offering with the functionality of Google's Android platform to create an attractive all-round package for enterprise customers.

Given Apple's high-profile difficulties, this could be a good opportunity for BlackBerry to regain lost ground in the smartphone market.