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BlackBerry making its case for Internet of Things

The company touts its secure platform as the optimal way to manage the growing web of connected devices.

LAS VEGAS -- BlackBerry wants in on the Internet of Things, in which any and every thing connects to the Net and talks to each other.

Sandeep Chennakeshu, president of BlackBerry Technology Solutions, talks about the company's IoT platform at CES 2015. Roger Cheng/CNET

Sandeep Chennakeshu, president of the company's BlackBerry Technology Solutions unit, unveiled plans to push the BlackBerry IoT platform. The company will initially go after the automotive and asset-tracking industries, but Chennakeshu said the platform is flexible enough to tackle different areas.

BlackBerry is the latest to talk up the Internet of Things, which has been a hot subject at this year's Consumer Electronics Show. The technology industry sees IoT as the next big opportunity, with billions of sensors built into appliances, security systems, health monitors, door locks, cars and wearables. All those sensors transform formerly "dumb" objects into smart ones able to communicate and coordinate with each other. Analyst firm Gartner predicts the number of networked devices will skyrocket from about 5 billion in 2015 to 25 billion by 2020. IDC reckons the IoT market will hit $3.04 trillion that same year.

BlackBerry said it is combining technology from its QNX platform, which powers systems in cars and industrial applications, with its secure network, for which the company and its messaging service have long been known.

"We own every component of the entire chain," Chennakeshu said.

BlackBerry has over the last several months touted the need for increased security as more devices go online. Chennakeshu talked up the platform's ability to collect data, keep it private and track the device through its life cycle, from development on.

BBM and Android Wear
BlackBerry also said today that its BBM messaging service would support Android Wear devices early this year.

BBM users will be able to receive alerts on their Android Wear watches, read BBM messages, respond without using their hands through Google Now and accept BBM invites.

BlackBerry said it has 90 million active monthly users on BBM, with 70 percent using the service on a daily basis. It also added more than 140 million registrations from iPhone and Android users.

"We're happy with our accomplishments," said Herman Li, head of BBM.