BlackBerry, formerly Research in Motion, is out in the market with its latest Z10 Smartphone; even though it’s selling better than estimated in markets such as the UK, Canada and India, the Smartphone won’t help BlackBerry regain its lost position in the Smartphone market.
BlackBerry, under the leadership of Thorsten Heins, took a substantial amount of time to figure the reasons why they suffered a tragic defeat in major Smartphone markets. No doubt, the result of this struggle — Z10 loaded with BB OS 10 — is the best Smartphone that BlackBerry has ever released, but the question here is whether it is good enough to regain Smartphone users who have opted for iPhone/Android-based Smartphones. I’ll try to answer that in this article.
Before Android and iOS came along, there were two distinct categories of Smartphones — business phones and multimedia phones. Business phones provided a more secure operating environment while Multimedia phones seemed cooler. Professionals were more inclined towards business phones while the young generation traded their money for multimedia phones. But when Android and iOS entered the market, these two distinct worlds combined — both Android and iOS are capable of delivering rich multimedia services along with a secure environment for business related chores. That’s when the decline of BlackBerry as a Smartphone brand began.
BlackBerry Z10 has the best features for business users, no doubt, but that alone won’t help BlackBerry outnumber Samsung and Apple in terms of Smartphone sales. Loyal BlackBerry users would continue to stick with the BlackBerry because of its industrial design, most would pick Q10 — the one with physical QWERTY keyboard — over Z10, because they are used to typing on it.
From what I see, BlackBerry’s philosophy has been to create the best Smartphone for ‘professional’ users, they must understand that a lot of people who buy Smartphones, aren’t using it for business, they are using it for other stuff such as social networking or instant messaging or Gaming. Even though Z10 has several features such as social integration, ability to play multimedia files and instant messaging, it might not be as attractive as the iPhone to the younger lot.
Another area where the BlackBerry lacks is Apps. One can’t emphasize the fact that apps have now become the soul of Smartphone operating systems. Let’s keep numbers out of the picture, Android is about to hit 1 million app count, but the majority of those are low-quality. BlackBerry OS has roughly 70,000 apps, it has several useful apps such as Facebook, Twitter, WordPress etc. But still lacks hip apps such as Instagram, Pandora and Netflix. How on earth BlackBerry plans to dethrone Apple and Android, when it’s app store lacks the apps which are used by everyone on a daily basis.
BlackBerry has tried a lot of things in the past to attract developers for its app store, but they haven’t been successful. BlackBerry can’t reach developers upfront to develop apps for their platform because developers know that BlackBerry is desperate and hence they are in a position to charge a large sum of money to make their app available for BlackBerry, even if the same apps goes for Free in Android and iOS app stores.
See, Android and iOS have large user bases and developers can make money via advertising, freemium revenue model (credits), but that’s the case with the BlackBerry. Not only the user base is small, the targeted audience i.e. The “business class” isn’t interested in playing games like Farmville, leave alone paying for upgrades.
If I were to buy a Smartphone right now, and I belong to the younger generation, what choices do I have? Z10 retails in India for Rs. 45,000, iPhone 5 (16 GB) for the same price and Samsung Galaxy S III/Note 2 for roughly Rs. 10,000 less.
Android would give me a more flexible environment, and since I am not too cautious about security, I would save Rs. 10,000 and go for S III/Note 2.
iPhone 5 on the other hand would give me a more protected environment, because Apple doesn’t allow third-party app installations and it has best set of mobile phone apps in the world. If I need a more secure operating environment, I would pick the iPhone 5, plus it looks really awesome.
See, I have no reason to consider Z10. This is relevant not just for me, but almost every person of my age that I know.
If BlackBerry thinks that with Z10, it can recover in the Smartphone segment, then I’d say they are overly optimistic about their own capabilities. They can either change their philosophy and spend a lot of time and money in making their app offering more lucrative, and operating environment more open or stick with a small section of Smartphone users — the business class — and be happy with the profits they make.
By this I don’t mean they should stop innovating, if they’d stop doing new things, the brand BlackBerry would die. They must keep loyal fans happy and hope that when people get bored with insanely open Android and app-rich iOS platforms, they consider switching to BB OS — for a change.
BlackBerry Z10 is a quality Smartphone and there’s no doubt in that, it’s just that majority of Smartphone users isn’t very keen to spend the amount of money BlackBerry is asking for Z10, when they can get iPhone 5 for the same amount.
Z10 is a good first step towards building a great Smartphone for all business users, keep at it and your numbers will rise, BlackBerry.
The media will always tout your new phones as something that can let you regain your supremacy. Don’t listen to them, it’s nearly impossible to compete with iOS and Android.
Call yourself makers of the Most useful Smartphone (if you want) and be proud of the people who trust your devices with their confidential data.
Just keep them happy and they will be faithful to you. Be happy to rule at least one sub-section of the Smartphone market.