Jan 11, 2013

Will companies continue to support BlackBerry?

BB 10 is almost here - finally. I haven't got my hands on one yet personally, but from what I've seen they actually look like pretty devices. It looks like all the major carriers in the US are going to support BB 10, so they are still in the game. The question I have is whether business will continue to support BB. I was at a freshman orientation at a nearby university back in August and the new students were asked to raise their hands to indicate the phone they carried. Android and Apple both had lots of hands, but I would guess no more than 4-5% raised their hands for BlackBerry, and almost all of those that did were international students. These are the people that are going to be entering into the business world in a few years, which isn't a good sign for RIM, at least not from the BYOD side of the equation. But if companies/agencies provide them, that could be a different story.

It's a dead platform. Sorry to be negative, but it's true. It'll continue to slowly fade away, regardless of what RIM does. Android and iOS rule the roost now, and I don't see that changing any time soon.

If I had to pick a third platform, it would be Microsoft's not RIM's.

Judging from developer support, there is still quite a bit of interest in the BlackBerry 10 platform. RIM had what they called a "Port-A-Thon" last Friday, and they had over 15,000 apps submitted. I'm going to hold off on dire pronouncements for now, lest RIM echo Mark Twain's refrain about reports of their demise being exaggerated. 


I think so, but this is probably RIM's last chance in the US. The US Government has also been a reliable source of sales in the past, but over the past year even they have been shedding BBs, despite the fact that POTUS is a well known BB user. Even so, it is my understanding that a number of large governmental agencies are evaluating the BB10 for potential use.


The problem is that BB's main raison d'être was it's secure email client. With easy integration of both iPhone and Android with Microsoft Exchange, that isn't as important as it used to be, and it is increasingly hard to justify paying extra for it. Some might even view it as undesirable given the occasional world or region-wide outages that hit BB's email.


It's easy to give my guesses and theories, but let me point out a nunber that demonstrates why RIM had better not count on continued support for BB is BB10 doesn't take off - 1.6%. That's the US market share for BB cited in the most recent Bloomberg article I could find. Heck that's only a little better than MY market share, and I don't make mobile devices.


It is important to remember that there is a world beyond the US. BB is quite popular in the Middle East and parts of Asia, including Indonesia which has a population almost as large as the US. Of course, Nokia is actually quite popular around the globe, but that hasn't been enough to keep their financials in good order. 


I think enterprises that now support BlackBerry will continue to do so until they decide it's not worth it. That will be dependent on how many BB users there are. Unless BB 10 does something better than Androids and the iPhone, I don't see RIM regaining any meaningful market share. Overall I'd say it would take a notable uptick in market share to prevent many enterprises from eventually pulling the plug on BB.

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