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Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

John Chen may be the CEO of BlackBerry, but even he has to sometimes remind people the company is still in business.

Why it matters: BlackBerry no longer manufactures phones, but it makes more than $1 billion in revenue per year selling things like security software, an operating system widely used in cars and patent licenses.

Quick recap: BlackBerry bought embedded operating system QNX in 2010, exited the smartphone business in 2016 and started letting Chinese phone maker TCL sell BlackBerry-branded phones. Since then, it has been a software-only company.

By the numbers:

  • BlackBerry gets about $600 million from its so-called platform business, which includes the company's security and enterprise device management software efforts.
  • The app side of things, which includes QNX, generates around $400 million per year.
  • Licensing its portfolio of more than 38,000 patent families earns BlackBerry around $200 million–$250 million per year.

In an interview at CES last week, Chen talked about the company, its remaining businesses and why he thinks BlackBerry needs to be more aggressive.

  • The company is generating positive cash flow and eking out a small profit, but the naturally impatient Chen wants it to do better.
  • "We really do need to execute," Chen told Axios. "We could definitely do better."

Between the lines: Getting a bigger place in the car is a key priority for BlackBerry. The company's QNX operating system has been used primarily for in-car infotainment systems, but that is rapidly declining in value and now amounts to only $2–$5 per car.

But software for cars overall is a growth business as cars move toward autonomy and add features like automatic braking, parking and lane detection. Those types of systems can produced in the $10–$20 in software revenue per car.

"A car is going to end up with 100 million lines of code," Chen said. "It's amazing. That's much bigger than the lines of code in an F-14 fighter."

Yes, but: Getting automakers to adopt new technology is tough work and often takes years, Chen said.

Go deeper: BlackBerry drives into connected car market

Go deeper

House passes $768 billion defense spending bill

Photo: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images

The House approved a $768 billion National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for the 2022 fiscal year in a bipartisan 316-113 vote on Thursday.

Why it matters: The annual bill, which authorizes Pentagon spending levels and guides policy for the department, would require women to register for the military draft, among other provisions.

6 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Republicans’ secret lobbying

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

The five Senate Republicans who helped negotiate and draft the $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill have been privately courting their Republican colleagues to pass the measure in the House.

Why it matters: House GOP leaders are actively urging their members to oppose the bill. The senators are working to undercut that effort as Monday shapes up as a do-or-die moment for the bipartisan bill.

CBC members nix border visit

A Haitian migrant carries a toddler on his shoulders today as he crosses the Rio Grande River. Photo: Pedro Pardo/AFP via Getty Images

Several members of the Congressional Black Caucus weighed visiting the U.S.-Mexico border this week to investigate the conditions faced by Haitian migrants and protest allegations of inhumane treatment by U.S. agents.

Why it matters: It's a thorny proposition both in terms of timing and messaging. Going assures a new wave of negative headlines for President Biden amid sinking popularity. And with congressional deadlines in the coming days over infrastructure, a possible government shutdown and debt-limit crisis, Democrats can't afford to lose any votes in the House.

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