It is a widely held perception in modern culture today, that BlackBerry as a company is a train wreck waiting to happen. With mounting financial losses in the handset business of the company its hard to ignore that the company is not in dire straits. This perception when combined with the near collapse of BlackBerry sales in the U.S, have shown that it’s not completely unreasonable to think that BlackBerry may be on the path to financial ruin. I think this is very shortsighted. There are multiple components to the company, that can lead it out of its current downward spiral and back into prominence.
The first thing to note, is that I believe BlackBerry does not need to have a handsets only business in order to prosper in the market. Yes, the pedigree of the company has largely been based on the company”s BlackBerry device, with its iconic keyboard, trackpad, and communications suite, all combining together to create an unparalleled communications experience. But, this was a time before the company’s market share had been eroded away by the likes of Android, IOS, and Windows Phone. Even with this decline, there are two avenues of potential value for the company moving forward that does not surround the handset business. The first is its BlackBerry‘s BES, Enterprise Software Platform, which provides governments and companies around the world with effective ways of managing mobile devices on the company’s back-end. infrastructure With BES, BlackBerry has a new avenue in the enterprise security sector with software that could help put the company into a better financial position.
Another, and more consumer oriented platform for them, is BBM or BlackBerry Messenger. BBM, is the multiplatform messaging client that allows people using “pin” based ID’s, to communicate with one another. Outside of the enterprise space, BBM has a huge market of users already on the platform with over 80 million users and over a 100 million registered users. What makes BBM valuable on the mass market side, is the fact that “Whats App,” another instant messaging service, was bought by Facebook for 19 billion dollars in February. This buyout, has shown the huge value of Instant Messaging applications. This opens up BBM to be both a valuable platform for integration with BES in what the CEO John Chen called “eBBM Suites,” the enterprise grade version of BBM and as a valuable consumer product. The value of BBM spills over to the larger consumer base with the possibility of opening up services to be purchased on BBM, although now this is only limited to buying “stickers” on the platform. This in the future has the potential to be opened up to other services, that would help bolster the company’s future.
While its handset business is losing money, with devices like the Z10, Z30, and Q10 not meeting expectations, BlackBerry is looking to help stem these losses with several next generation phones. The first one for the low-end market, looks to merge the price point of Motorola’s Moto G, with the size of the Z30. The BlackBerry Z3, looks to meet these two important inroads by helping BlackBerry regain loss market share and revenue in the handset business with an inexpensive, yet attractive phone for people all over the world. Another device, is the BlackBerry Q20, or as the company refers to it as the “Classic,” looks to merge the classic features of early BlackBerry phones, mainly the trackpad and shortcut keys, in order to appeal to the much larger “legacy” BlackBerry fan base. Finally, Chen and the company looks to the past with the re-release of the BlackBerry Bold 9900. The Bold 9900, is widely regarded as one of the best handsets to ever come from the company. Although it was released in 2011, the company believes that re-releasing it can help attract new customers with the classic device.
To conclude, the potential value in BlackBerry is beginning to shift away from its handsets to the likes of software and services. The likes of BES and BBM have given new hopes for the company, should its handset business go under. Although, I have stated that the handset business is not needed, the company is still investing heavily to bolster its handset sales, by releasing the Q20 to appeal to those who love the “classic” design, with the modern BlackBerry 10 OS, the Z3 for those on the low-end and for emerging markets, and finally the Bold 9900 to bring in classic BlackBerry lovers and enthusiasts who wish to buy back into the company with its much loved handset. This shows that BlackBerry is slowly, but surely recovering as a company, and that in time it may grow to become great again. The company’s future regardless of popular perception, isn’t as black as some people may think.