After some terrible marketing decision last year, Blackberry is back on the market with its latest flagship called KeyOne. Blackberry was the productivity guru a decade ago. Blackberry smartphone could do tasks way better than regular phones those days. It was a time when chatting was considered a revolution to save on telecom bills. Blackberry, soon with its secure chat messaging and classy keyboard became the choice of the CEOs and tech enthusiasts. Its unencrypted secure messaging was a hit among the youth in India. Initially, Blackberry sold its phones through tie ups with selected multi-national companies pitching through the HR & IT departments. This created the need for the product. Soon, people wanted to try a hands-on experience of Blackberry phones. The stock price of Blackberry at NYSE was $148 in June 2007 and today its trade at $9. So what went wrong?
Tech giants like Apple, Google and Whatsapp disrupted the smartphone market. Apple with its premium iPhone became the choice of the CEOs. Android Froyo introduced budget friendly smartphones in the market. And, Whatsapp became a choice of messaging for all due to interoperability with Apple, Android and Nokia Symbian devices. Blackberry was adamant to the change. Its secure messaging app Blackberry Messenger was no longer a choice when compared to multi-functional WhatsApp. iOS and Android were open platforms which ran a lot of apps and on the other hand Blackberry restricted apps due to data and phone security concerns. It was an ideological war between Blackberry and others and customers had the choice to choose between the open marketplace and closed restrictive features. Blackberry lost the bet.
BlackBerry’s fundamentals deteriorated because its lone product category fell out of favour in a rapidly evolving market. The company had 80 million subscribers and more than 20% of the global smartphone market share at its 2008 peak. Its market share fell close to 0.5% by 2016. The fees collected per subscriber from mobile carriers also tumbled as competition intensified and the BlackBerry brand weakened. BlackBerry adhered to a physical keyboard rather than moving to touch screen, and its focus was on email, rather than app use and web browsing. It fell out of favour quickly, as consumers showed a clear preference for other smartphone formats.
In a bid to revive lost fortune, Blackberry launched Passport in 2017. It had a weird looking design which would never fit in the pocket. Blackberry Passport had a legacy of physical keyboard, DTEK security app and it ran on Blackberry’s custom BB OS. A terrible OS with no app support for YouTube, Whatsapp and most of Android apps. Blackberry Passport was launched in India at a price of Rs. 49,990. After a massive disappointment, Blackberry ditched its own OS and introduced Android based devices at premium prices. In 2016, Blackberry Priv was launched at the whopping price of Rs. 63,000 to compete with Samsung Galaxy S7 edge, LG G5 and iPhone 6S. 2016 was the year when Chinese OEMs disrupted global smartphone markets with flagship killers.
It is okay to make mistakes until you are too adamant to accept and improve them.
Blackberry’s yet another mistake, the KeyOne. The KeyOne continues the legacy of a physical keyboard along with 4.5 inch display. To match up with specs of 2017, Blackberry KeyOne has 4GB RAM, fingerprint sensor and 32 GB ROM. KeyOne runs on Snapdragon 625 processor, the same processor of Moto G5 plus which is a mid-range device. Blackberry KeyOne is priced at Rs 40,000. Blackberry fans, if any should definitely buy KeyOne because we feel that it will be the last ever Blackberry phone.
– Chaitanya Kulkarni.