We don’t like to see any tech company go down the gurgler. The fast paced world of hardware (and software) mean that concepts can be a hit in incredibly short time frames (eg: WhatsApp) and one single device can completely change a company (eg: the iPhone).
It also means that you can go from king of the hill to a dud just as quickly.
Which is why it saddens us that BlackBerry is still clinging to the exact concept that sunk the company and took them from the most desirable handset maker in history to the brink of extinction in less than a decade.
Blackberry CEO John Chen announced today that they would be launching the Q20 BlackBerry Classic this year.
“In my first 90 days on the job, I consistently heard from our ardent BlackBerry customers that the hard buttons and trackpad are an essential part of the BlackBerry QWERTY experience, that made their BlackBerry smartphone their go-to productivity tool. I want these customers to know that we heard them, and this new smartphone will be for them,” said John Chen, Executive Chairman and CEO at BlackBerry.
“Today, we’re delighted to announce the new BlackBerry Q20 smartphone, which is designed to give you the distinct experience that every BlackBerry QWERTY loyalist and high-productivity business customer absolutely loves. With the BlackBerry Q20 smartphone, you’ll get the familiar hard buttons and trackpad that you want, along with the best email service, the best keyboard experience and the best battery life possible.”
Now before you get your physical keyboard knickers in a knot – yes, we agree that there are BlackBerry loyalists, and yes this is exactly what they want.
The problem is that there simply aren’t enough of them left to keep the company afloat and every day more and more of them jump ship to an iPhone, Android or Windows device.
Every minute, every engineering and marketing dollar BlackBerry waste catering to their past condemns them to repeating it.
As a company their only chance of becoming a force in the smartphone world again is to devote as many resources and minds as possible to leveraging their one valuable platform (BBM) and turning it into a significant revenue stream via government contracts, a platform agnostic app and finally a killer handset that puts the focus squarely on the tasks that we actually use them for. Messaging/emails, sharing photos/social media, running apps, browsing and (the soon to become dominant) mobile e-commerce.
For the overwhelming majority of customers these tasks are best performed (and viewed) on a full screen, touch based device.
We love tech companies that genuinely innovate and we would love it if BlackBerry pivoted and became a serious player again.
Investing time and money in the BlackBerry classic is not the way to do that. Every resource they burn up (including column space in tech media) has a cost.
Regrettably I’m calling it.
In my opinion the BlackBerry of 2014 under new CEO John Chen does not have the leadership or mindset to recover from their catastrophic loss of market and mind share. They will become a cautionary tale for handset makers the same way Kodak is for camera manufacturers (who are also being swallowed by handset makers).