Can the Passport, the new BlackBerry product, bring the once declining company back into sight? The share price of BlackBerry has increased more than 45% since last year. However, this improvement in share price is largely due to severe redundancies and the company’s revenue is still stagnant.
BlackBerry position the Passport as a portable and stylish phone, which can keep up with the busy life of a businessperson: getting multiple things done at once. The executive of BlackBerry, John Chen, is positive. He said that the Passport sold out in-store while Amazon shipped more than 200,000 orders. However, when compared to the ten million iPhone 6 units sold in its first week of release, things may not be that positive. Reviews are often negative: the two-hand typing is awkward and the application of apps is far from what iOS or Android provide. The saturation of the software market makes it too difficult and too late for BlackBerry to enter a demanding consumer market.
In the face of formidable competition from Apple, BlackBerry struggled but finally decided to target business users instead of the whole market. This seems wise because focusing on the professional market should help BlackBerry to earn quickly and seek more market power. As a result, the Passport is designed with business users in mind. It retains the physical keyboard and high battery life, its 4.5 inch square screen is perfect for spreadsheets and documents, and it has a Siri-beating assistant through which users can instruct the phone to locate their work diaries. These are strong designs for professionals, but will these core features make a difference? Look back to better times, when BlackBerry accounted for one in five smartphone sales in 2008. The crucial difference was BlackBerry’s unique messaging services and secure software.
Blackberry’s failure cannot only be attributed to Apple, but also to their rejection of the trend: smartphone entertainments. Now, traditional BlackBerry is losing market power, iPhones and Android use a more advanced messaging network. Historically, the service fees accounted for most of BlackBerry’s profits, however the service fees were costly to many corporations so alternatives were found; for example, American corporations encourage staff to bring their own devices to work. Now profit from service fees is declining 15% each quarter. If BlackBerry wants to focus on the business market, they need to rethink their consumer needs.
John Chen did a lot to revive BlackBerry and the results are beginning to take shape. A simpler organization with a clear market position and smarter finances construct the basis of a bright future. Review the success of Apple and Samsung, stay in tune with the market and always be creative. These are the golden rules for BlackBerry to emulate.