Monday, July 15, 2013

The saga of the BlackBerry

Once known as the market leader of smart-phones, Research In Motion may have seen and touched the future of mobile technology a few years ago, but was bumped off by the introduction of Apple iPhone around 2007. At that time RIM was the master of the smart-phone industry having loyal customers who were dedicated to company's BlackBerry phones with the signature keyboard. It took them a couple of years to realize that the future was going to be different from what company had created. And they still didn't know how to reach it, an overloaded software platform could simply stop functioning one day. In addition, RIM's marketing strategy was a complete mess. Different agencies ruled their own versions of a BlackBerry campaign almost in every country or region. Even within the same region, campaigns would slightly change, which led to no lasting effect.

According to Kantar Media market research made in 2012, BlackBerry spent $41.3 million that year on marketing in U.S., while Samsung and Apple spent more than $400 and $333.4 million respectively.

The beginning of 2013 shed light on renamed as BlackBerry company's vision of the future. Still not clear, still distant and risky. Although, some of the core ways are determined. BlackBerry phones of the past were for communication, the future ones are for computing, commanding, controlling. New devices will be used to do business, command your car, or control your health. The launch of BlackBerry 10 signalized company's re-design, re-engineering and re-invention.

Many say the success in this market in no longer dependent on the device quality, it's more about ecosystem. 70,000 of BlackBerry's applications are competing against 775,000 iPhone apps and 600,000 apps for Android. Great product is not enough to regain lost ground, they need to grasp new opportunities. That's why this case draws my attention: BlackBerry has the potential to get back to its leader position if they make tough decisions. That refers to Thorstein Heins, CEO of the company, who earned the reputation for doing so: after crisis he laid off about 5,000 workers and focused on software development. Now BlackBerry makes both hardware and software just like Apple, but they can license the software platform for additional revenue, which Apple does not do. Owned by BlackBerry QNX Software company also developed a stable operating system to eliminate crashes and is going to improve it over the next few years.

Overall, BlackBerry's saga continues to gain momentum. They went back to basics by taking the focus off the growth only, moved quickly towards restructuring the marketing division under a centralized unit. Company's Live conferences were aimed to change the perceptions about them and deliver the message "We're back". Another way they intend to mainstream awareness is through the carriers, which have rich advertising resources. Operators want to create competition and variety in handsets and BlackBerry will launch more new models this year and next year at the mid- and lower-ends. Let's see who wins this race...

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