If you analyze the recent trends in the smartphone industry, you could effortlessly surmise that “no one remains smart for long”. Take the case of BlackBerry, which is a prime example to substantiate your claim. For that matter even Nokia’s case can also be cited. BlackBerry’s developer, Research In Motion Limited (RIM) reported a net income of $3,444,000,000 for the financial year 2011. In the ongoing year it reported a downward trend which seemed out of the blue. How can such a downslide happen all of a sudden?
RIM in 2011 released the impressive statistics:
- Presence in over 175 countries with atleast 595 BlackBerry distribution partners
- BlackBerry smartphones recorded sales to the tune of 14.9 million till date
- Deployed more than 250,000 BlackBerry Enterprise Servers (BES)
- A strong base of 370,000 registered BlackBerry software developers
- BlackBerry App World downloads per day crossed 1.5 million
- Active BlackBerry Facebook users estimated to be 33.4 million
- Active BlackBerry Twitter users remained at 7.2 million
- Active BlackBerry Messenger users grew by 110 percent in the last 12 months and stood at 43 million
If the above figures are to be believed, then we can term it as a stellar performance. But in the following seven months, things have taken a different course altogether.
A dip in revenue, loss of market share to Google and Apple, cut in headcount, drop in stock by a whopping 52 percent, delay in rolling out new models and drop in shipments – this is the scenario after a year. In addition to this, the brand loyalty has been hit very badly. A poll revealed that nearly 52% of the total participants would go for other smartphones while nearly 9% would stick with BlackBerry if it manages to launch devices based on the BlackBerry 10 OS. The fall from this height could turn fatal, which seems imminent.
Who would, in their worst nightmares, have ever imagined that the once market leader in smartphones will cease to exist?
Windows 8 – The Last Nail in the Coffin
With RIM, in such dire straits, the best options are to either let go off BlackBerry, or keep BlackBerry and simultaneously adopting Windows Phone 8. Either way, it’s learnt that BlackBerry is short lived because the competition outside is too hard to beat. Google and iPhone are cruising ahead taking major chunks of the smartphone market. And secondly the consistent delay that’s hampering the release of BlackBerry 10 OS, which is giving out negative vibrations and has kept people guessing. Although BlackBerry 10 OS has been receiving positive reviews following its test release, a full release of the build seems little far away. It could be reasoned that RIM is taking its own sweet time to develop the BlackBerry 10 OS, as it is very critical to BlackBerry’s survival.
BlackBerry partnering Microsoft to have W8 for its future devices can be the end of the road for BB unless Microsoft gets it right. Windows Phone 8 has just been released, its capabilities are still being speculated. Windows Phone 8 has features aimed at the enterprise market with capabilities such as device management, encryption, personalized market place etc. It can greatly add value to BlackBerry’s strongholds such as the push email and heightened security of its enterprise targeted devices. While there should not be a tinge of doubt about Windows Phone 8 having enhanced facilities, the crucial part would be how Microsoft can ward off Apple’s or Samsung’s competition.
There’s something strange about the BlackBerry story – the seemingly sudden fall. A strong brand, with an awesome product range, excellent performance on all the fronts and booming sales, but what’s the point when the next thing you see is a beleaguered RIM. Can it be the vagaries of competition? Even if it was why didn’t anyone see it coming? Was the tremendous success blinding the eyes of the management? Or was it the management’s overconfidence? Undoubtedly the reason is too obvious to be overlooked; because there’s nothing else that seems to be responsible for BlackBerry’s current state of affairs.