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Blackberry buys UK ‘virtual SIM’ firm Movirtu

Blackberry has confirmed it has acquired British startup Movirtu for an undisclosed fee.

The London-based technology firm provides "virtual identity solutions" for mobile operators, enabling multiple phone numbers to be used on a single handset.

Read more: BlackBerry hoping new Blend software will boost its smartphone comeback (opens in new tab)

The virtual SIM platform could prevent the need for employees to carry multiple smartphones or SIM cards, by allowing personal and corporate tariffs to be billed separately. The technology would also prove useful for the "corporate owned personally enabled" device market, where employees' work handsets double as personal phones.

Blackberry will be hoping that the acquisition can help the firm build on some promising recent financial results. After seeing its share of the smartphone market dwindle over the past few years, the company made a profit of £12.5 million for the first quarter of its 2014/15 fiscal results.

CEO John Chen has earmarked services as a key growth area if the firm is to continue its momentum. 54 per cent of its £523.2 million Q1 revenue came from its services division, compared to just 39 per cent from hardware sales and seven per cent from software. Blackberry also sold just 2.6 million handsets during the first quarter.

As reported by WhatMobile (opens in new tab), Chen believes that the purchase of the British firm is an important part of its services strategy.

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

Read more: BlackBerry CEO emphasises growth after slashing 60 per cent of workforce (opens in new tab)

Movirtu is Blackberry's second acquisition in the space of a few months following the purchase of voice and data encryption company Secusmart in July.

Barclay has been writing about technology for a decade, starting out as a freelancer with IT Pro Portal covering everything from London’s start-up scene to comparisons of the best cloud storage services.  After that, he spent some time as the managing editor of an online outlet focusing on cloud computing, furthering his interest in virtualization, Big Data, and the Internet of Things.