Tag Archives: Blackberry

Back to Basics | A Letter to John Chen, CEO of Blackberry

It has been a while, but after a time of reflections, I am ready to hit the ground running once again with some new posts and announcements. The new theme of the hour is back to basics. With that being said, I would like to take a moment to write a letter to Blackberry’s CEO, John Chen, regarding the Blackberry Playbook, Blackberry’s only released tablet which may go down in history as the only tablet Blackberry has ever released. My letter is as follows…

John Chen, CEO of Blackberry,

Mr. Chen, I would like to take a moment to talk about Blackberry and in particular the Playbook. First off, it’s great to see you at the helm of Blackberry. Even in the short time that you have been there you have made significant strides in changing the tone at Blackberry and streamlining the efforts of the development team. I speak for all the Blackberry community when I say that the recent BB 10 update (10.2.1) has taken Blackberry 10 to an entirely different level. It feels like a fully baked OS now and quite frankly, I prefer it to iOS and Android. All Blackberry fans and supporters clearly prefer it as well. It’s fluid, functional, and most of all effective. The Z10 is the best phone that I have ever used and I yearn to have the same OS on my Blackberry Playbook.

Blackberry made a promise to its community and to every purchaser of the Blackberry Playbook three years ago when it released the tablet with the full and stated intention of releasing Blackberry OS 10 for it in the future. This is a promise that has gone unfulfilled and now with your recent EOL announcement, you have left every Playbook owner, in particular the owners who make up the loyal Blackberry community, with a device that will not only not receive the new operating system, but will also receive no more updates. This includes not only updates to the OS, but no more security updates or updates that will keep the device functional. This is a major blunder on Blackberry’s part. As an active user of the Playbook, I would like to see Blackberry do something to make up for this unfulfilled promise, whether it be in the form of continued updates, the realization of BB10 on the Playbook, or a third option. Blackberry could open source the Playbook software so that the open source community can pick up where Blackberry developers left off. Another solution (one which I am fond of) is that Blackberry give us the ability to mirror BB10 off our our BB10 device onto our Playbooks. This would be a simple way of proving Blackberry’s commitment to its most loyal consumers. 

In closing, Blackberry has always provided its users with a unique experience that cannot be easily mimicked. It is in Blackberry’s best interest to retain its loyal customer and to do this includes providing Playbook a sign that Blackberry recognizes that it was a mistake on their part to not provide users with the a promised commitment to bring OS 10 to the Playbook. I for one would really like to keep using my Playbook, but it is already a device that is well on it’s way to being completely obsolete. 

Best,

Raymond

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The Top Five Problems of Microsoft’s Windows Phone

In recent days, Microsoft has been in the news quite a bit. One might almost believe that a new found energy and innovative spirit are soon to make their way into the Windows landscape. Long-time CEO Steve Balmer has announced is impending resignation and Microsoft has announced it’s acquisition of Nokia’s Phone Division. This news comes trailing stories of the failure that the Windows Phone series has been. I’d like to take a moment to discuss what I see has the top five problems with the Windows Phone series that the new Microsoft CEO, in conjunction with Nokia’s talent, will have to tackle.

1. A Light App Store

Microsoft’s app store just simply doesn’t compete with that of iOS and Android. Microsoft has the same problem that Blackberry is facing. Developers just aren’t porting their applications over to the Windows Phone. We know that in the smartphone market applications are everything. A phone can live or die based on the apps library it has. Developers go where the demand is; therefore, they just don’t see a sufficient return from the Windows app store. Until the demand rises, Microsoft will have to create incentives for developers to want to port their apps over to the Windows phone.

2. A Lack of Variety in Handsets

There just simply isn’t that great of a variety of handsets in the Windows Phone ecosystem. In fact, Microsoft has acquired the largest manufacturer of Windows Phones, Nokia. We know that one of the things consumers like about Android is the variety of phones available. There are so many great choices out there, from the HTC to the Samsung Galaxy series. There is one hope for Microsoft though. We know that while there might only be one phone in the iOS ecosystem, the iPhone, that fact has not dimished from Apple’s success. Consumers value the connection between the hardware and software that Apple offers. If Microsoft can mimick and build on this, then it might be able to breathe life into the Windows Phone series.

3. The Cool Factor and the Luxury Factor

Apple’s iPhone has always exemplified the luxury factor. It’s meant to be a high-class, elegant device and it succeeds. The design of the iPhone 5 is simply captivating. It’s sleek, industrial, and modern. The Samsung Galaxy series has taken on the cool factor. Samsung has effectively managed to position their phones as the phones of the younger generation. They’re the phones on the cutting edge. Windows Phone does not come with a strong aesthetic too it. it is a sort of undefined product. Who buys the Windows Phone? Microsoft has to answer this question if they want to garner success.

4. Marketing

Microsoft simply hasn’t marked their phones all that well. The result is that I and many see it as a budget-conscious, smartphone. It’s the prepaid smartphone of choice for T-Mobile. This lowers the value of the brand and pushes consumers away. Microsoft has to market these devices better and bring consumers into the store.

5. Late to the Party

As always, Microsoft has been late too to tackle the smartphone market. Their response to the iPhone and Android wasn’t that quick and their choice of utilizing the formerly called “metronome” interface may have been ill-advised. sure it is innovative, but it simply gives off too much of foreign vibe. Further given the lack of a fondness for Windows RT, it would be unlikely that consumers would grow a desire for it on their phone. It’s always a wonder because Microsoft was in the smartphone business long before Apple or Google. Microsoft’s best chance is to be as innovative as possible in order to offer consumers featurez not found in iOS or Android.


Who Should Buy Blackberry? Amazon

It was surprising news for everyone to find out that Amazon had bought The Washington Post. I was thrown off a little at first, but I have to admit that if there is a single company out there that has the ability to reinvent print media, it’s Amazon. Jeff Bezos has proven that he has a knack for making media consumption innovative. In writing up my post-mortem on Blackberry, I began thinking about who should buy the company and it came to me that Amazon might be the best buyer. This might be Amazon’s opportunity to take a valued brand, operating system, and technologies, and mesh it in with the Kindle ecosystem to make the Kindle Phone. Imagine if Amazon were to enter its hat into the smartphone market. While it is a competitive market, Amazon might be in a great position to corner a segment of the market whose focus is on media consumption and not necessarily apps. My recommendation is for Amazon to buy Blackberry.


A Post-Mortem for Blackberry

The Blackberry Q10, us.blackberry.com

The Past

A few years ago if you heard the word Blackberry you automatically associated it with professionalism and highly-polished smartphones. As far as messaging and e-mail were concerned, Blackberry did both best. The Blackberry was the corporate device that had a great deal of appeal to the general consumer base. It’s messaging capability made it very popular amongst the younger crowd. This was surely something that Blackberry (RIM at the time) did not foresee happening, but the truth is that the Blackberry was very popular with teenagers and young adults. Even to the present day, the Blackberry (the brand) is highly valued and respected, but has clearly fallen by the way side when compared to brands, such as Apple and Samsung.

The Present

It’s not news that Blackberry has been on the decline for a number of years now. Blackberry has already announced that it is up for sale, following abysmal sales of it’s new flagship phones, the Blackberry Z10 and the Blackberry Q10. The key phrase is that Blackberry has done too little much too late.  Blackberry is hemorrhaging money and one has to wonder whether or not the property will be bought before it’s strictly in the red. The most valued asset has to be the Blackberry name, which is still a valued brand. Aside from that, one has to wonder if Blackberry’s patents, phones, tablet, and team are desired enough to attract the attention of potential buyers. Blackberry’s story is really a tragic tale of how inactivity and sluggishness can lead to failure.

The Post-Mortem

Slow Response to iPhone

When we take a look at what’s lead to the downfall of Blackberry there are several problems we can focus our attention on. One of the biggest problems was RIM’s response to the debut and release of the original iPhone back in 2008. What was their response? It was nothing. While companies, such as Samsung, immediately started working on new phones that sought to mimic the functionality that Apple was offering and other companies, such as Microsoft, sought to innovate in new directions, Blackberry (then RIM) did absolutely nothing. One can even say that they had done absolutely nothing up until their two handsets release now in 2013. Blackberry did nothing to compete with revolution in smart phones following the release of the iPhone. There have really only been two attempts by Blackberry to compete with the iPhone, prior to 2013. The first was the Blackberry Torch and the second was the Blackberry Storm, which were both failures because all that Blackberry did was to put a touchscreen on their phones. That’s it. They saw the iPhone and decided that in order to compete all they needed was a touch screen. This isn’t the kind of response  you would expect from a well-established and reputable company.

Resting on Corporate Business

Blackberry has essentially coasted on its corporate business for the last few years. The Blackberry was not going to be easily displaced in the work place so perhaps RIM thought that Apple, Samsung, Google, Microsoft and several other companies weren’t a threat to it’s business, but clearly management was over-confident. What we’ve come to realize is that as phones, such as the iPhone and Samsung Galaxy, become popular to general consumers, demand arises in the corporate setting. Corporations and government agencies were secure with the Blackberry, but as other smartphone’s quickly far advanced the phones offered by Blackberry they became more open to change. RIM was short sighted to think that focusing on their corporate business would be enough to stifle the advance of vastly superior smartphones.

The Blackberry App Marketplace

Blackberry’s app marketplace to this very day is abysmal. When I turn on my Blackberry Playbook and visit the Blackberry World Marketplace, I find myself journeying through a desert of destitute apps. There is dearth of apps that is so blatant it would lead a consumer to believe that the enterprise had been abandoned. Developers have simply not adopted the Blackberry platform. Blackberry was smart to have allowed Android apps to run on both the Blackberry Playbook, Q10, and Z10, but even that was simply not enough. It’s the theme of this post-mortem. It’s simply been too little and much too late.

A Non-Mainstream Tablet

I do have to admit that I am a Blackberry Playbook user and while I’ve had problems with Blackberry support in the past, I still enjoy my Playbook. It does everything that I need it to do and it does it well. The Blackberry Playbook has had a lot of problems. It was again another device that was late to the market. With the iPad and a large proliferation of Android tablets, the argument for a Blackberry tablet was weak. Aside from this the Blackberry Playbook, from the viewpoint of a user, is not much a mainstream tablet. There just simply isn’t that much you can do with it and with a destitute app store there isn’t much functionality that can be added to it. It’s not like an iPad or an Android tablet, where the app store can extends appeal to just about anyone. We’ve come to realize that a device lives or dies with its app store and if platform lacks it, it will surely struggle to gain in popularity.

Blackberry Messenger, BBM

A few days ago Blackberry debuted its Blackberry Messenger app, which brings the BBM functionality of the Blackberry to both iOS and Android. This is a great move by Blackberry, but once again, it’s much too little, much too late. Knowing that Blackberry is looking for a buyer, this is almost an attempt to gasp for air. This might have been a great move on Blackberry’s part had it happened a few years ago, but simply comes across as forced now. Aside from this, I just don’t see anyone adopting the application. Why would anyone? There are so many other solutions out their now that I don’t see anyone sincerely having interest in BBM, which might be associated with the earlier part of the past decade.

Closing 

These have just been a few of Blackberry’s many problems which I decided would make up a great look into the post-mortem of Blackberry. I believe the company to be dead, but, of course, you could argue it’s simply on life-support. Whatever the case, if a buyer does not present itself soon, then surely Blackberry will be on its last knees. I’m sure that this will be a business case that will be studied for many years by business students as a prime example of how a company can shut down and simply fade away through inactivity.


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