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BlackBerry Ltd (BBRY) Just Rejected 180M Potential Customers

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BlackBerry Ltd ,  says it will no longer operate inside the borders of Pakistan after a row with the country forced it to make a hard choice. According to a post by the firm’s Chief Operating Officer Marty Beard the state requested that all data from the firm’s BlackBerry Enterprise Service be watched. The firm said no, and it will stop serving BlackBerry customers in Pakistan after December 30.

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Mr. Beard’s announcement is just the latest move in a row that has been going on for months. BlackBerry originally announced that it would ceases services in Pakistan from tonight, November 30, but the firm changed its mind as talks with the state continue. That leaves those businesses that rely on BlackBerry in Pakistan shaken, and unlikely to have uninterrupted service in just a few weeks time.

BlackBerry leaves users behind

At a time when the BlackBerry Ltd  hardware business is crumbling across the world, leaving behind a massive market like Pakistan is going to hurt. The country has a population of more than 180 million people, and is a massive market that BlackBerry is leaving behind.

“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.”, Mr. Beard explained. He added that “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.”

This is a line that BlackBerry has had to walk in recent weeks. As the firm launched the PRIV, a phone that claimed to bring real security to Android, its privacy credentials were questioned. It seemed clear that BlackBerry was not for the kind of security that firm’s like Apple espouse. This statement makes it known that the firm is willing to protect users from most state threats.

BlackBerry struggles to grow

There may be a silver lining to the BlackBerry Ltd  decision. Though the firm is losing a mass market, it’s going to be able to brand itself more thoroughly as a firm that cares about security by getting out of the country. Alphabet Inc, then called Google,  was able to do the same thing when it pulled out of China back in 2010.

On this morning’s market fairly little thought appears to have been given to BlackBerry’s problems in Pakistan. At time of writing shares in the firm were selling for $7.81, down just a fraction from this morning’s open. Pakistan may be a massive market, but given the current state of BlackBerry business it’s not one that Wall Street seems to think John Chen should be focused on.

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