The Return of Blackberry?

The mobile market question

One of the biggest questions in the mobile industry right now is with Blackberry. It’s no secret they are in troubled times. They lost significant market share to the likes of Apple and Google with their respective iOS and Android platforms. So what happened to them? Can they make a comeback right now? Let’s take a look at what got them to where they are today.

The rise of the smartphone giant

Prior to 2007, there wasn’t much on the market for phones. Phones that simply allowed you to call and text were the norm, while there were a few let you access and browse the internet from a limited web browser. Fewer yet let you have custom software on them.

Blackberry let you do all these things long before many others. It could be debated whether or not the user experience was perfect, but it is undeniable that it was effective. Everyone had a Blackberry. Every business had a Blackberry. There was literally no real competition in sight.

BB Stock Price Going Up

They had increasing sales, tremendous growth, an all-time high stock price closing in on nearly $250 a share. But then something happened.

Their fall from grace

Many times when one company is having great success and dominating the market, others will try to get in and shake up the competition. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. Unfortunately for Blackberry, something did work. When the iPhone was announced in 2007, with the idea of an easily accessible “App Store” and being fully-touch screen, people noticed and took interest.

When it launched, the demand was unprecedented – everyone wanted one. Very friendly, usable, and most importantly it had this concept of easily searching for new apps to install (the “App Store”). Blackberry could install apps too, but there was no app store. Not like Apple.

What was Blackberry’s response? Change nothing. The result?

bb_stock_down

 

Complete market share loss. Almost immediately in fact. From nearly $250 a share down to almost nothing. It wasn’t until 2009, nearly 2 years later, that they decided it would be a good idea to put up an App Store which became known as Blackberry World. This took too long and the other platforms were already well established and had claimed their foothold.

The present and future

Fast forward to today and a few things have been done. They released a new Operating System (BB10), and have launched a few new devices. While being reasonably good in their own right, they haven’t taken hold as much as they needed to. The problem is that while they have caught up to what is offered on the respective iOS and Android platforms, they don’t necessarily offer anything new. To get people to switch you need to give them a reason.

Recently, a new plan for Blackberry has been announced. And that is to return to their roots – a phone for business. A phone resembling one of their all-time favorites: the Bold 9900. This new device is called the Blackberry Classic and it means to capture everything that made the Bold so popular and win back the fans of old.

Now from what we’ve seen in the past, even if you are a market leader that doesn’t mean you are invincible. Not even Apple or Google today can claim this. Well established, yes, invincible, no. If you fail to innovate, someone else will come along and take the crown. So the question becomes – is going back to their roots during the fall from grace a good move? Or is it a bold move (no pun intended)? Time will tell.

Jordan Johns is a software engineer at Push Interactions. His day-to-day work involves architectural design and implementation of iOS and Android apps.

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