The writing on the wall has been the same for over 3 years now. The days of RIM and Blackberry seem numbered and there’s hardly anyone who seem to protest even diplomatically.
Optimism may soon have a unit of measurement in number of RIM shares one holds. But wait, things may not be all but over for the erstwhile giants of smartphone market.
After all who hasn’t seen companies bounce back from near oblivion (Apple anyone?). This post shall not act as a pseudo eulogy as several out there but instead focus on the things that are still going well for the Ontario based smartphone makers.
Focus on Enterprise
The smartphone has grown to be the most potent device for communication and entertainment in recent days. The changeover was brought on by Apple’s iPhone. One tends to forget however the origins of the smartphone. The devices once connected to the internet and provided the user the facility to email and view presentations etc.
BlackBerry prides itself for their extremely high security and considerably cheaper prices than iPhone. With the BlackBerry messenger and push email, BlackBerry still remains highly preferred among the enterprise consumers with 33% of the enterprise market behind only the iPhone. While “Bring your own device” culture is becoming more prevalent in enterprises around the world, to most enterprises, BlackBerry remains the preferred device to provide your employees. BlackBerry may also attract the users conventionally due to its lower price in comparison to the iPhone.
Blackberry will have to focus on the enterprise segment mainly through services such as BlackBerry Fusion and BlackBerry Balance. BlackBerry Fusion is going to focus on the enterprise users who do not buy BlackBerry devices. The enterprise solution for companies provides seamless enterprise experience across all devices. Blackberry Balance will allow enterprise users to carry only one device to work which is already synced with their workstations and laptops.
Build Lower price segment models.
BlackBerry was once a status symbol. The Consultants and the Investment Bankers of the world once flaunted the Black and Bold phone. Today times are now different for RIM. Blackberry must now appeal to a new segment of young and hip consumers who are looking for the convenience of QWERTY keypad, security of enterprise phones and the convenience of BBM.
A look at the price list of BlackBerry mobiles will show that the prices for blackberry phone have been falling significantly in the recent past. RIM must continue to come out with more entry level Blackberry phones such as the Blackberry curve 9220 at the sub Rs 10000 price bracket. At this price segment, Blackberry will provide users much more functionality than competing Android phones, albeit with lesser apps.
Target The Next Billion market
BlackBerry may have lost its favour amongst the developed markets of the world, but it still garners huge following in the developing markets.
BlackBerry features in the top 3 smartphone vendors in India behind Samsung and Nokia. It leads in several developing countries including Indonesia, Netherlands, South Africa, the U.A.E., Saudi Arabia, and the Philippines.
BlackBerry must now start leveraging on its rising demands in developing markets and bring out products that cater to Indian and third world mind-sets. Nokia did that with the Asha series and has managed to stave off Samsung’s continuous attempts to dethrone it in the Indian markets.
Nokia still rules the feature phone segments mainly due to the success of the Asha series. BlackBerry may be well advised to come out with a new line of BlackBerry phones catering to the markets that it is doing well.
Use the Celebrity Status
An earlier post on trak.in referred to the sheer pull BlackBerry still holds sway among celebrities. It is probably something Blackberry must leverage on to establish itself among the Indian consumers as well as similar markets elsewhere.
Apple had a similar campaign with the iPhone 4S featuring celebrities such as Samuel L Jackson, Zooey Deschanel (not Katey Perry) etc using the SIRI for day to day activity. Celebrities still hold leverage over consumers and when a celebrity endorses a product that he/she uses, consumers are bound to stand up and take notice.
Revitalize the Blackberry 10
There is much riding on the new OS from Blackberry as well as the next device running on it. BlackBerry 10 promises to bring together the concepts of seamless connectivity, touch screen functionality as well as communication with various embedded systems such as those running parking meters, check-out counters in stores etc.
We have seen a brief preview of the OS with its swanky new virtual keypad and its timeline photo feature that lets users rewind the last few seconds within a photo for a selected subject to get better looking pictures. How these things will match against the rise of Windows 8 and IOS 6 is yet to be seen.
BlackBerry has very little time left to correct its course.
While industry pundits and investors may have already declared their eulogies, the company may yet be able to chart out a recovery. It may not be able to feature a phoenix like rise from near oblivion, but RIM and BlackBerry may still be relevant in the modern age of communication.
2013 is an interesting year for BlackBerry fans and users. Should the company collapse or be bought up, it means transition from BBM and the secure networks of BlackBerry. Should BlackBerry feature a significant come back, it may mean another renaissance for the tech giant.
[About the Author: Ashwin Sreekumar heads Marketing at MySmartprice and is an MS graduate from State University of New York, University at Buffalo. He has avid interest in eCommerce, marketing , technology and smartphones.]