Posted by: Tony Bradley
BlackBerry 10 is here…finally. RIM—now officially rebranded as BlackBerry—launched the new BlackBerry platform at a media event in New York earlier this week. As impressive as BlackBerry 10 (BB10) is in some ways, it’s not going to make any significant dent in the waning relevance of the company or its mobile platform.
Along with rolling out the BB10 platform itself, BlackBerry also introduced two new smartphones. The Q10 is a more traditional BlackBerry handset with a physical QWERTY keyboard, and the Z10 is a more iPhone-esque touchscreen device. They look nice, but not really compelling enough compared with the iPhone, or the plethora of Android and Windows Phone smartphones out there.
Jason Hiner, editor in chief of TechRepublic, summed up the new BlackBerry smartphone in a tweet: “BlackBerry Z10: This is what BB Storm should have been in 2008 and BB Torch should have been in 2010. In 2013? Tough sell?”
Jan Dawson, Chief Telecoms Analyst at Ovum, explains that BlackBerry has it’s work cut out for it. BYOD and consumerization mean that corporate IT managers are no longer making the majority of smartphone purchases, and individual consumers are simply not attracted to BlackBerry when making their own smartphone buying decisions.
Because of the prevailing culture shift when it comes to technology decisions being driven by users, it would seem that BlackBerry should focus its efforts on winning over the consumer market. It seems evident, though, that the primary focus with BB10 is to be a better BlackBerry option for existing BlackBerry users, but it’s not necessarily intended to go toe-to-toe with iOS and Android in the consumer market.
Dawson says, “We can’t fault RIM for wanting to hold onto its 80 million existing subscribers,” adding, “We believe that much of the installed base in mature markets has delayed upgrading while BlackBerry 10 is pending, something that has unfortunately dragged on for far too long, thus lengthening the upgrade cycle and depressing results in the interim.”
That pent up demand for BlackBerry loyalists, and corporations who feel they’re too invested in the BlackBerry infrastructure to switch platforms right now will likely produce a spike in sales and revenue over the next quarter or two. But, once that demand is exhausted, BlackBerry sales will once again stagnate and decline.
Dawson is also not very optimistic about the future of BlackBerry. “We don’t expect a speedy exit from the market; with no debt, 80 million subscribers and profitability in the black in at least some recent quarters, the company can continue in this vein for years. But its glory days are past, and it is only a matter of time before it reaches a natural end.”