BlackBerry Has Nowhere to Go but Down
Blackberry May be in Trouble
I was talking to a friend the other day and we were both discussing how we thought BlackBerry was in trouble. They owned a niche with their killer push email service and just stopped there. I can’t think of a single impressive innovation from them in the last several years.
There are several reasons why I think that they are in for a long slow slide into irrelevance.
- Can’t cross over as consumer devices
- Too many superior alternatives
- They will lose the enterprise (and that’s really all they have)
- Software is stale and boring
Can’t cross over as consumer devices
You have to admit that their hardware is fugly. Their best hardware feature is their amazing keyboards and they keep turning their backs on them. The Storm touchscreen that made you ask, “Should I touch it, tap it, or press it?” How about that stupid “two letters on one button” idea on the Pearl and Perl Flip? What a train wreck. There are both bad ways that they deserted the traditional keyboard. The problem is that if they include that big, wonderful keyboard, you’ll probably get a big, ugly phone. That’s fine for corporate drones, but not 16 year old girls.
Too many superior alternatives
iPhone – Except for the keyboard, it kills BlackBerry in every conceivable areaGoogle’s Android Platform – any good handset maker has free access to great softwareWindows Mobile – Available to any handset maker. Enterprise support, Better UI, Better Media, Better appsPalm’s Web OS – It’s just sexierNokia’s Symbian Platform – Take a look at the worldwide stats.
They’re Losing the Enterprise
The only thing that keeps BlackBerry afloat is their absolute stranglehold on Enterprise mobile email. They currently have 21 million enterprise users or a 60% +/- share of enterprise mobile email. Nowhere to go but down.Here are a few reasons why that will erode fairly soon:High cost of their email services for enterprise – In order to supply “push email” to those Crackberry addicts, you need to have a very expensive addition to your IT infrastructure. Most companies either use Microsoft’s Exchange or Lotus’ Domino mail servers. BlackBerry devices can’t connect directly to those servers. You need to have the BlackBerry Enterprise Server, a second “shadow” mail server that is the intermediary between the corporate mail server and the phone. Extra server, extra software, extra support staff; you do the math.All of their competitors can connect directly to Exchange serversAll of the other major smartphone Operating systems can connect directly to the Exchange server. BlackBerries do work better for email, but not enough to justify all that expense. Plus, key decision makers would love to ditch that bulky extra phone.
The Software is Stale and Boring
Does anybody actually “like” using their BlackBerry for anything other than email? Let’s face it, the software is kind of boring.The fact that the vast majority of customers are corporate workers who don’t own the phones means that their apps store faces problems too. Think about it; are you going to buy a bunch of software to install on the phone that your work owns? That’s if your IT department doesn’t have it locked down before they give it to you. No Up-sell
Other Nails in their Coffin
Gmail – It works amazing on mobile phones and supports “push email”. The mobile web interface is great too.
Google Docs / Zoho Office – You can view, edit, and create office documents for free. They also support real-time collaboration.
Tablets and Netbooks – Did anyone see the iPad? True, I knocked it for a few issues, but version 2.0 and beyond will start taking big slurps off BlackBerry’s milk shake. What happens when another 30+ iPad competitors hit the streets? Those slurps start turning into chugs.
Now I know, Palm is still around. Heck, I even cited them as one of BlackBerry’s threats. But they used to be a household word, not the fifth bullet in an argument. People labeled an entire electronic gadget category (Personal Digital Assistants) as Palm Pilots. Kind of like all mp3 players are called iPods today. Now they’re an afterthought.I’m not saying that they will shut down operations next week, but I do anticipate a several year slide into obscurity. Don’t be surprised if in 2016 you hear yourself say, “Remember CrackBerries?” Kind of like when we make fun of those huge cellphones that rappers carried in their videos.
What Do You Think?
Do you think that BlackBerry’s best days are behind them? Or, are they about to seize control of the handset market?