Will BlackBerry ever get it back?
The last few years have been pretty rough for BlackBerry, who were once one of the most renowned brands in the world of telecommunications. Their demise came as a shock to some, but their inability to define personal and business has been quite obvious from the outset.
BlackBerry’s failure of course comes partly due to the fact that they have failed to compete with the likes of Apple and Samsung, two companies who have been producing some of the most successful smartphones and mobile devices of recent years. Together they have pushed each other to the next level, leaving their other competitors in their wake. However, in saying that, is it too late for BlackBerry to turn around its fortunes? Well, lets not write them off just yet, here are a few things that they must do if they want any chance of surviving.
Going back a few years, BlackBerry were originally a business brand, the mainstay of every salesperson and manager up and down the country, even the across the globe. In 2009 they announced and launched the rather successful Curve 8520, aimed at teens who loved social networking and listening to music. Despite it’s success with a younger crowd, the choice of creating a product aimed at another type of consumer meant a cross roads had been reached. Do we chase the younger market, or do we continue the hard slog into the business market?
Instead of deciding either way, Blackberry become stagnant, losing appeal to both types of consumer. Business users are now choosing the iPhone as their weapon of choice (or perhaps even more recently Nokia Lumia running W8) with the cool kids sticking with Apple or heading to Samsung with the true geeks. The main issue Blackberry has never become a lifestyle, it has always just been a piece of hardware. Blackberry’s App World is the main issue here, less of a world and more of a small town. A huge lack of backing from major players and developers and even with funding people are just not willing to invest the time in taking their apps to BB. A severe lack of anything games, books, magazines, movies and music, basically anything fun.
Continuing the life theme, the beating heart is of course the mobile operating system itself. having reviewed a good few BlackBerry phones over the years, I’ve never really found the OS that intuitive. A lack of personalisation options for the user to go through is a major flaw but of course just the general animations and overall look could also be improved. BlackBerry sought to fix these issues with the launch of BB10 in 2013, but yet again the support, planning and thinking wasn’t really there. BB10 looks rushed and too similar to Nokia’s Symbian OS, which ironically, has also faced mass criticism and is now second choice behind Windows 8 on Nokia phones. If they really want to improve, then they need to start over, creating something new and exciting.
For everything else, Blackberry just seem slow on the uptake, failing to respond to recent market trends, firstly touch, tablets and more recently phablets. The Z30 (unveiled in September) joined the ranks, but having waited so long, we surely expected something with more of a wow factor. We don’t mind brands taking their time, in-fact we would rather have an update more substantial but please make sure you wow us when it happens! An outside chance good by an early 2014 release of a smartwatch, with wearable tech becoming the next big thing. It’s certainly a great opportunity for them to come fighting back, reinventing themselves.
Lastly, it’s important for BlackBerry to tackle product design and what it actually means to a product. Their recent handsets have failed to impress, commented on by a number of tech reviewers and critics that they look too boring and slightly old-fashioned. If they were to, for example, actually announce their very own smartwatch, then it’ll need to excite upon its announcement. They need to look at more than just colours, and actually look into what gets us human beings ticking. Maybe something a bit less boxy would work, sporting plenty of curves and overall appeal. If they announce a smartwatch with a built-in rocket, then I’d be well and truly impressed.