Via The Verge:
“The company plans to end all internal hardware development and will outsource that function to partners,” said CEO John Chen in a statement. Elsewhere he stated: “We are reaching an inflection point with our strategy. Our financial foundation is strong, and our pivot to software is taking hold.”
This isn’t surprising news considering BlackBerry’s ongoing struggle in the mobile market. According to estimates from Gartner, the company claimed just 0.1 percent of the market in the second quarter, equating to sales of some 400,400 units.
The company recorded a loss of roughly $375 million. I struggle to see how selling how that equates to having a strong financial foundation. BlackBerry is a shadow of its former self. First, they switched gears and stopped putting BlackBerry OS on new devices, now they’re not even shipping their build of Android on phones they’ve built themselves. There doesn’t seem like a clear plan here at all.
They’ve always touted their enterprise software offerings, it’s assumed they’ll focus on that and move entirely into software. Maybe take a risk and develop something new entirely for the business crowd? Who knows. As it stands, they’re running out of room in a crowded market with other Android phone makers and Apple. Finding a way onto those devices might be the lifeboat the company needs.
While we’re talking BlackBerry, one of the more frustrating points came from another interview with BlackBerry CEO John Chen in which he essentially blames Canadians for not supporting the company through the tough times:
Chen feels that despite his company’s best efforts and the fact that BlackBerry is “an iconic brand” and an important part of “the history of tech and innovation” in Canada, the struggling Waterloo-based handset manufacture’s reputation is sullied in the mind of many Canadians.
“What I think Canadians ought to think about is, if you really think technology and knowledge is the next evolution of the economy, having a healthy BlackBerry is actually paramount in importance not only to Waterloo and other innovation centres, but also for the Canadian mindset,” said Chen.
BlackBerry has had plenty of opportunity over the years to build a strong handset division both before and after the iPhone. While I’m sure they didn’t choose not to make a truly compelling phone to compete, they haven’t given people anything close to a reasonable alternative to what Apple has in the iPhone or Samsung with the Galaxy series, short of maybe last year’s PRIV.
In my opinion, their biggest differentiator could and should have been their own OS, with a strong marketplace of apps, running on a phone built by the company itself. Instead, we got a half-baked (and now abandoned) operating system, with little to no apps, running on outdated and disappointing hardware that stubbornly refuses to abandon a feature few other manufacturers supported at all and many consumers are uninterested in: the QWERTY keyboard. It goes without saying but if you focus on catering to such a small portion of the market, you’re going to get a small portion of the market and not much else, Canadian or not.