We may just miss Blackberry when it's gone
By Ron Miller
By now you've no doubt heard that BlackBerry has had a bad week.
There was the huge layoff notice on Friday. On Monday, came news that a Canadian equity firm was taking over the company.
Today, BlackBerry canceled its earnings call and T-Mobile announced it was dropping the BlackBerry line from its US stores. There were even reports of vultures circling overhead at the company's Waterloo, Ontario headquarters --not really, but you get the idea.
The company that has been dire straits for some time went from critical condition into intensive care, on life support. It hasn't been a good time for the once smartphone force.
It seems clear that if there is a way forward for Blackberry it won't involve phones. Scott M. Fulton outlines a way forward for BlackBerry using its remaining strengths in a very intelligent piece. Unfortunately for those who still want them, it doesn't include the handsets.
When I was traveling in Germany last year, I sat next to a gentleman on a plane who had two phones. I asked him why he would be carrying a BlackBerry and an iPhone. He explained his German employer was still issuing the BlackBerry for work and the iPhone was his personal phone.
I learned that Germany still has a primarily command and control IT department and there wasn't a ton of Bring Your Own Device there (at least at that point). That was partly because of security concerns and partly because the Germans take the work/life balance very seriously. Many companies don't want employees working at home. Work is for work. You shouldn't have to worry about it when you leave.
As BlackBerry reeled this week like a prize fighter who had taken one too many hard punches, it left me wondering what happens to those companies that still want a secure phone like BlackBerry? The German company my inflight neighbor worked for was still using ancient handsets.
There have been updates this year of course, but none of that has helped BlackBerry and when they're gone, or at least the handset division is dead and buried, it will leave a hole in a niche market for those types of phones. Where will those German companies go for a similar product.
You would think that Microsoft would fill that void, but it seems clear that Microsoft is going for the consumer market. They could have bought BlackBerry, but they chose to go with Nokia instead, placing their bet firmly on the consumer and BYOD.
That actually makes sense because one of the primary reasons BlackBerry has gone downhill these past several years has been its inability to appeal to consumers. When IT was buying phones, and there was very little if any smartphone competition, BlackBerry thrived. But as iPhone and Android overtook the market, and people began bringing their own devices to work, BlackBerry couldn't compete.
Sure, IT loved them, but IT wasn't choosing the phones anymore, the employees were, and when they were given a choice, they choose anything but BlackBerry.
We don't know what the final outcome for BlackBerry will be at this point, but it's a good bet it will be chopped up and sold and the handset division could just die because its market has dried up so badly, but you can't help but wonder if there is still a sizable niche market for this type of phone and what companies that want that will do when BlackBerry is gone.
Photo Credit: JAM Project on Flickr. Used under CC 2.0 license.
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