Since Blackberry lost its position as the top smartphone maker in the world, we’ve all being predicting the fall of the Canada-based company. But through a cocktail of some strategic restructuring, the company has managed to stay afloat. Some might say the appointment of John Chen as CEO in 2013, was the single most important decision of the restructuring period.
Blackberry is not out of the woods though. As a matter of fact, the fourth quarter financial results show that the final collapse of Blackberry may finally happen. This conclusion is solely based on the figures released of Blackberry phones sold for the fourth quarter.
The Blackberry Priv was supposed to be the savior of Blackberry in the hardware business. The Priv generated a lot of media and public attention because it was the first Blackberry phone to adopt the Android OS as its operating platform. With the Blackberry Priv, Blackberry users had access to the millions of apps on Google Play which were lacking on BB10 Blackberry handsets. And to make the Priv even more unique, it came with the iconic Blackberry keyboard and Blackberry’s famed privacy protections. It was the best of Android and Blackberry combined in one smartphone.
After the initial burst of enthusiasm following the launch of the Blackberry Priv, reality has now dawned for Blackberry. The fourth quarter results show that smartphones units sold by the company was just 600,000. That is, all smartphones sold by the company worldwide, including Blackberry Priv, was less than a million units. At this rate, it is not possible for Blackberry to continue in the hardware business. Because CEO John Chen had previously stated that to break even, Blackberry would need to sell 3 million cell phones. Three million looked like a small figure if you are a global brand, but Blackberry sales wasn’t even up to one third of that figure.
Would Blackberry sales in the coming months ramp up to achieve the target of at least 3 million devices? It is unlikely to happen. The initial rush by people to buy the Blackberry Priv was the period the sales figure should have topped at least 1 million units. At this rate it would be hard to see any significant increase in sales.
It is very likely that the BB10 operating system would be rested, given that Blackberry’s next devices are also likely to be Android-based phones. The experience of the Blackberry Priv has shown that Blackberry is not likely to make significant in-roads in the high-end niche of the smartphone market. That has being locked down by a few OEMs led by Samsung and Apple. Besides, there are so many Chinese brands offering high-end specs at mid-range prices. So even in the mid-range segment, it is going to be difficult for Blackberry to be a success. Unless, they are going to adopt the Chinese OEMs model of making high-end specs at budget prices. And with the combination of the brand name, these budget Blackberry smartphones might just be what could save Blackberry’s hardware business.
Getting media attention is one of Blackberry’s strong suits at the moment. Unfortunately, the media news these days is tilted towards bad news. Basically, following up on the slow demise of Blackberry. Leveraging this media fixation on them in favour of the upcoming Blackberry Android phones could be the stroke of genius the company needs to survive. That is where Mr John Chen’s savvy would be seriously tested.
photo credits: todayonline.com; blackberry.com