Blackberry shipped 7.9 million devices in 2014, a big drop on 2013’s figure of 18.6 million units. The company is no longer a major player in the smartphone race, but during this year’s Mobile World Congress, it re-emerged with a new strategy laser-focused on the enterprise.
ChangeWave Research showed that, six years ago, some 40 per cent of U.S. smartphones wore the BlackBerry badge. The company failed to make the pivot from e-mail device to smartphone and was outperformed by Apple and Google, among others. Due to BlackBerry’s dismal performance, some analysts labelled it the “walking-dead smartphone company,” but CEO John Chen promised a return to profitability by March 2015. In an interview with Reuters last November, Chen said that the company was managing the supply chain, inventories and cash and had expenses at a number that was “very manageable.”
Fresh off the back of a MWC pseudo-launch for an unnamed handset, BlackBerry has confirmed it will be releasing three more phones this year. During the expo, the company also launched the BlackBerry Leap, a touchscreen phone with a five-inch “edge to edge” display. According to BlackBerry, the phone will appeal to “career-building” young professional and businesses which value privacy and security.
Despite BlackBerry’s attempt to get back in the saddle and regain control of a piece of the enormous pie of smartphones, eMarketer analyst Bill Fisher believes the device might struggle to find a market, especially since rivals Sony, Motorola, Microsoft and LG were among the companies to have released mid-range phones recently, the BBC reported. Mr Fisher considers that “BlackBerry is not doing enough to differentiate itself,” particularly at a time when such phones are flooding the market.
Even if BlackBerry has a whole set of devices in store for 2015, smartphones alone are unlikely to help it make a comeback (just a 0.4 per cent market share for last year). As a result, the other part of the company’s strategy is to offer access to its services to rival platforms. BlackBerry announced it would offer three different bundles of services for a fee to iOS, Android and Windows Phone handsets which provide access to its secure email, calendar, Universal Search, virtual-keyboard tools and password management, among others. CEO John Chen said the company’s “core values of security and productivity are more in demand than ever” and explained that customers want its “legendary security and core productivity and collaboration capabilities while still being able to choose a device that matches their lifestyle and personality.”
According to Mr Fisher, BlackBerry’s new strategy and good software might even bring some users back to its own phones. The BlackBerry e-mail system is constantly rated the best of its competitors and, as security and cloud breaches remain a problem nowadays, the company has a chance at convincing professionals that the e-mail is the common language of business and being safe is better than being in line with the millions of people who own an iPhone or a Samsung device.