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Blackberry struggles to find a strategy – up for sale

You can tell when a company becomes hopelessly lost. Things it once took for granted, like leadership and innovation, become nervous half-choices and an urge to copy answers from the kid you’re sitting next to. Blackberry had it all, but those days are long gone. What next for the old dear?  Is there one more chance to get back to centre stage? KitGuru BBMs some friends to find out.

BlackBerry chief executive Thorsten Heins (Blackberry CEO) has been quoted as saying “…we are pleased with the progress that has been made” and it looks like JP Morgan has been brought in to help with the shifting of the shares. We’re not sure where the optimism comes from. KitGuru was founded on a communication system linked together with Blackberrys, but now we have none in the organisation. That’s 100% to 0% in just 3.5 years.

We all know what Blackberry did that was amazing and special:-

  • The speed and security of getting your emails pushed direct to your phone across the globe
  • Blackberry Messenger to allow unlimited texts to be sent without racking up huge costs
  • The keyboard [Nuff said – Ed]
  • The nipple/track ball which allowed you to whizz around your apps and edit text in a way that made touch screens look completely retarded
  • Half decent camera and clever compression techniques so that shots taken and sent by BBM could be delivered in an instant
  • Interchangeable battery – so you can easily keep going 24×7
  • Micro SD card so you can update your storage whenever you like
  • Plug and play back up system which allows you to ‘move your phone’ to any other Blackberry device in minutes

At the same time, we know where the villainy lies in the Blackberry cupboard:-

  • They didn’t buy and integrate a service like Napster to provide all round entertainment
  • Slow to increase the size of the screen
  • When they did introduce touch, they forgot about the quality of the proximity sensor – so a generation of 9900 users would find themselves performing random functions during each call
  • BBM was a closed platform – while WhatsApp was nice and open
  • The camera on the 9700 and beyond was hopelessly outgunned by offers from Nokia etc
  • Horrendous App Store which required biometric testing in order to install anything (while Apple’s system is so easy, even a 6 year old can rack up a bill of $7,000 in a month)
  • When they finally did go for a larger screen, they left out the nipple – thinking that everyone was happy with the crappy way that touch screens make you move around your mobile OS
  • Lastly (in this list) was the tremendous drop off in build quality we saw around 2009. People who had 9700 phones before the quality drop, noticed straight away when production changed. You could literally hold an old and new 9700 in your hands and feel where the money had been saved. Not clever.

Essentially, the Blackberry 9900 is as close to a perfect phone for a business person as you could get – IF they improved the proximity sensor, camera and app system. And re-think the battery size/live Vs slimness of design. Whichever idiot at Blackberry thought that business users needed a slimmer design with a slippery back, should be taken outside and shot. A thicker phone with a back that had some traction – now THAT would have been a winner.

Instead, Blackberry went for a complete re-write with the Z/Q devices and left a generation of loyal fans in the lurch when the iBerry devices came out. So sad.

Now we have a company that can easily lose £200 million a year on falling revenues – with no clear direction on product design – hopelessly looking for a buyer to sink around $5 Billion into its shares.

We’re guessing that if you’re a hardcore Blackberry fan, then your favourite design of all time is NOT on the right hand side of this pic. Can a private owner be found?  If they can, will they understand that it’s only by going back to core Blackberry values that the brand can be saved?

Talk about getting lost. Someone in the Blackberry design team should be shot and the board should resign.
Talk about getting lost. Someone in the Blackberry design team should be shot and the board should resign.

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KitGuru says: Can the brand survive through to 2015?   Right now, that’s not clear.  What we do know is that if Blackberry had not cornered the secure email market many years ago, they would probably already be out of business. If the US government was not paranoid about a Chinese company purchasing the company (along with the servers where presidential etc emails pass daily), maybe it could have been saved a while ago. Right now, some kind of strange ‘private’ ownership might be the only way forward.

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