Thoughts on the Blackberry Revival
Blackberry is back in the news again. Having missed the smartphone revolution, and being eclipsed by the iPhone and Android phones in particular, many have written obituaries for the company. When they reported their earning last month, there was a decrease in subscribers for the first time, although at 79 million, it was still more than one year ago. There is great interest in their new products, known as Blackberry 10, to be introduced January 30, and the stock price has been steadily rising over the past few months. Does RIM have another chance? I will let you draw your own conclusion. Let’s look at some facts.
Blackberry is a secure platform. It is generally appreciated that messaging on Blackberry is the most secure among phone systems. It has an established niche in government, law, and other fields requiring high level security.
Blackberry continues to be used by a group that values email and messaging above all else. At the recent Consumer Electronics Show (CES), the Wired Blog noted ‘I have seen an incredible amount of Blackberries and Galaxy Notes’. These users know what they are missing, and that is a decent browser and a map application. They may not be interested in loading their phones with Apps. We all know who these people are. They trust Blackberry.
Microsoft has given RIM an opportunity. They have committed several errors with Windows Phone. New Nokia phones running WP 7.5 cannot be upgraded to WP 8, and developers have not exactly flocked to the platform. Many basic Apps are not yet available, or equivalent to those on IOS or Android. RIM released developer tools well in advance (as opposed to Microsoft), and there is good reason to believe that many desired applications may be available for Blackberry 10.
Carriers are interested in Blackberry 10. The four major carriers (Verizon, AT&T, Sprint, and t-Mobile) have all announced that they will be carrying the new phones, and RIM mentioned on their earnings call that 150 carriers around the world are interested in the new platform.
The iPhone and Android are no longer new. The Samsung commercial where a young man is saving a spot in line for what is obviously an iPhone launch rings true. An innovative operating system that carries forward the features that have made Blackberry successful may be surprisingly attractive.
Blackberry can compete with Apple. Unlike Android and Windows Phone, where multiple manufacturers compete on price and features, RIM, like Apple, controls the hardware and software. And Blackberry, because of its user base, may still command the image of a premium product.
In the end, it may come down to how well RIM has executed the transition to the new Blackberry 10 operating system. After all, Palm is gone because they failed to execute, and RIM may suffer the same fate. But in the world of professionals there may be room for another platform, especially one that corporations and professionals have trusted in the past. We have watched the evolution of the Blackberry Playbook, which runs the same basic software. It has excellent multitasking, and a more than acceptable browser.
We have heard promises before. Until we have the phone in our hands we will not be any better at predicting the future of Blackberry.