Where is Blackberry now?: Can we learn from their mistakes and solutions

Blackberry have just announced their first quarter results and in the opinion of the almost new CEO John Chen, the future looks bright. With exceptional effort on all fronts (which we will get to later), the company, formerly known as Research in Motion, boasted a gross margin rise of 46.7% – as compared to 33.9%, quarter on quarter.

In its prime, Blackberry was THE smartphone as competition was in short supply and more advanced devices, like the Palm, were not easily accessible. The sudden acceleration of Apple and then Samsung from 2007, exposed RIM’s vulnerability in the research and development department. Hard-pressed to pick out a defining reason for the rapid downfall, it will have to go down to the Operating System. Hardware is one thing and can be mimicked but virtually fault free and user friendly software is something that requires huge investment, both intellectual and financial. Their stubbornness to overhaul an already aging interface as well as consumers breaking their addiction to Blackberry Internet Service (BIS) saw the mobile giant take a decline not often seen before on the global market iOS and Android took over.

The release of the Blackberry 10 software used in the Blackberry Z10 and later Q10 flagships saw a brand new OS, trying its best to match its competitors. RIM also had a makeover, changing its name to simply, Blackberry. Device sales were never going to be enough as evidenced in their mediocre performance in the high end device market. The survival strategy had to include changes across the BB spectrum.

As with many companies, cost leadership is the first port of call. This negates job losses until it becomes unavoidable. Next, they moved focus to improve their strengths. Blackberry Messenger was made available to its competitors, this allowed BB to communicate to new users and at the same time increase its intellectual property value. To date BBM has 60 million daily users.

In a recent interview Chen highlighted other assets that Blackberry will be focusing on, i.e Enterprise Software and machine to machine communication. A lesser known fact is that BB did not lose all of their corporate clients and will look to expand on this. Another area that will also be focussed on will be device design for emerging markets. Blackberry may not be able afford a new device launch so they have swallowed their pride and partnered with Hong Kong based technology company Foxconn who will manufacture the device while Blackberry will still develop the software and manage inventory. This has minimized risk but still has major potential if growth of other initiatives in emerging markets are anything to go by. Blackberry’s emerging market efforts are quite noticeable in South Africa where devices are available for every bracket with Indonesia also high on the list.

Admirably Blackberry has not given in, and to see how far they continue will certainly be an education for all.

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Anesh Sukhnandan
Anesh Sukhnandan
I have travelled the full spectrum of what technology has to offer. The creature that is my career continued its evolution into the Project Management environment, managing major software development for some major players, right up to implementation, roll out and even training. Changing little, but changing often is my strategy for progress.