New Operating System and Smartphones Boost BlackBerry’s Chances for Comeback - Analysts

BlackBerry Enters the Final Batter with the Release of BB10 Platform

by Anton Shilov
02/04/2013 | 11:58 PM

At present, it is hard to imagine that BlackBerry, once the No. 2 mobile operating system after Nokia Corp.’s Symbian will manage to beat Apple’s iOS or Google Android. However, while the odds against success may be long, the company las week improved its chances of improving its market share with the introduction of the BlackBerry 10 mobile O) as well as the Z10 and Q10 smartphone models.

 

“Despite the overwhelming advantages held by the opposition, BlackBerry’s introductions will keep the company in the smartphone game for now. The new operating system and phones increase the chances that BlackBerry can regain some of its lost market share during the make-or-break year of 2013,” said Ian Fogg, senior principal analyst for IHS.

BlackBerry (formerly known as Research in Motion), has seen its star fall dramatically in recent years, with its share of global smartphone shipments falling to an estimated 5.2% in 2012, down from 18.7% in 2009. In comparison, market leaders Samsung and Apple together accounted for approximately 50% of unit shipments in 2012. During the same period, BlackBerry’s ranking in the smartphone market fell to sixth place in 2012, down from second in 2009, according IHS iSuppli, a market analysis company.

“In order to claim the title as the smartphone market’s third ecosystem after Google and Appl – a distinction now being pursued by a range of competitors – BlackBerry needs to bring its ‘A game’ in all areas. These areas range from differentiating its products, to offering compelling and reliable smartphone devices, to securing broad operator support, to creating a complete software ecosystem,” said Mr. Fogg.

Communication, Innovation, Stability – Three Pillars of BB10

Since it is not possible in today’s market to compete with Apple, Samsung and Google simply by copying their products, all contenders must differentiate their hardware and software. On this front, BlackBerry appears to have scored some early points, with its new OS widely adopting a unique communications-centric user interface, branded BlackBerry Flow and Peek. With BlackBerry 10, apps like LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook and others are part of a single flowing experience, rather than the separate apps of iPhone or Android. Moreover, delivering reliability as good as existing BlackBerry smartphones would be especially impressive.

“BlackBerry 10 will appeal to the significant number of consumers that are yet to adopt smartphones because they are unmotivated by current entertainment and Internet apps, but are instead communications-centric. This focus on communications also will go a long way to winning back ex-BlackBerry owners,” explained Mr. Fogg.

Operator Backing

"Operator backing will be critical for BlackBerry’s future success. The company needs operators to support its marketing efforts and to communicate that BlackBerry 10 is not just another brand, but a genuinely differentiated product from the scores of Android smartphones," said Mr. Fogg. 

Luckily for BlackBerry, it has many potential teammates in the mobile market that will help it play in the big leagues with the behemoths of Google, Samsung, Apple and Microsoft. The operators, which are key to the sale and distribution of modern smartphones in most developed countries, greatly desire alternatives to the current smartphone market leaders. Operators must spend now to support the BlackBerry 10 products if they wish to avoid the current smartphone duopoly becoming entrenched for the long term.

 “Further concentration of the smartphone market would weaken the position of operators with those smartphone leaders in negotiations over sourcing devices or in ensuring that operators' content and communication services products are not bypassed by smartphone software,” believes the analysts.

Microsoft’s Failures to Help BlackBerry

Two years after the platform's big relaunch, Microsoft has repeatedly failed to establish Windows Phone as the third mobile ecosystem that operators desire. In the fourth quarter of 2012, lead Windows Phone backer Nokia shipped just 4.4 million Lumia Windows Phones. Furthermore, Microsoft has failed to leverage its strength in enterprise software from its Microsoft Office and server product lines to drive Windows Phone adoption. This opens opportunities for BlackBerry 10 in the enterprise as well as among operator partners.

All Bets Are In

“BlackBerry 10 is a smart launch from a smart company that has marshaled its relatively modest resources effectively to create a range of next-generation smartphones that are differentiated compared to what’s on the market now. However, to compete with the big boys, BlackBerry will need to execute every part of its playbook perfectly during the next 12 months. If BlackBerry fails in any phase, it will be ‘game over’ for the company’s comeback story,” concluded Mr. Fogg.