Will BlackBerry rise from ashes?
BlackBerry launched the Q10 phone on May 28 with a reception at The Seed within the Sabancı Museum. We were impressed with the phone. The design and the usability are great. It has some features like multi-screen usability that would make any iPhone user very jealous.
However the main topic that the press was discussing was if this would be enough to make BlackBerry great once again. It is very hard to be a leading seller in any industry but it is much harder to do it after you have lost most of your market share. There have been a few firms that pulled it off, like Apple, to become legendary trademarks after stumbling down.
According to IDC, BlackBerry’s market share of smartphones is 2.9. They are the fourth. Android systems lead the market with 75 percent, iOS has 17.3 percent and Windows is at 3.2 percent.
Then there is the issue of tablets. The tablets sold by BlackBerry in Q1 2013 number 370,000. The CEO of the company, Thorsten Heins, said in an interview that tablets are not going be a part of the future. He said tablets will be useless once mobile computing evolves and it will have in five years. He also said that BlackBerry will be the absolute leader in mobile computing by then. BlackBerry gave an official statement after the interview: “The comments that Thorsten made yesterday are in line with previous comments he has made about the future of mobile computing overall, and the possibilities that come with a platform like BlackBerry 10. We continue to evaluate our tablet strategy, but we are not making any shifts in that strategy in the short term. When we do have information about our PlayBook strategy, we will share it.”
Another statement from the company is like this; “We have the competitive advantage of having acquired QNX, which forms the basis for BlackBerry 10 and is embedded in all of these industries. We have the added benefit of owning the most secure mobile platform the world has ever known. There is nothing more secure than a BlackBerry running on a BlackBerry network. We believe that advantage will be critical in the new world of mobile computing. The future is very bright for BlackBerry.”
These are very bullish statements. But do they hold any weight? I really didn’t think so until the launch of Q10. The product is very solid, but what is more important is that the ecosystem that comes with it is very solid. The emphasis on “mobile platform” is the main idea that will keep BlackBerry going forward. There some numbers to back their claim too. There was a single order of 1 million devices from a leading account. The new devices that are sold to previous owners of different platforms are at 55 percent, which is good news for BlackBerry. Also the U.S. government and 95 percent of Fortune 500 companies are users of BlackBerry.
The future looks brighter for BlackBerry than a year ago. However the company will have a difficult time gaining traction in non-business usage.
So, overall I believe that BlackBerry will gain some market share back fast because they have a very good device at last. But to make a legendary return they will have to keep on innovating and marketing.