By GREG STAMPER
One short year ago, the end of January marked the beginning of something new, something innovative for the newly renamed BlackBerry: the launch of the highly anticipated BlackBerry Z10 handset, as well as the new BB10 operating system, had the smartphone world buzzing.
There were public skating parties held throughout the Region of Waterloo and Kitchener city councillors even voted in favour of waiving a long-standing city policy that forbid private companies from using public property for advertising to allow BlackBerry to hang banners on street light poles around city hall and parts of King Street; the hype was massive.
Then the rest of 2013 happened.
Failure, that’s the best word I can think of to describe the year that never was for BlackBerry and their Z10 smartphone and BB10 OS.
On Sept. 27 of last year, it was reported that BlackBerry was being hit with a $1-million loss on a large amount of unsold Z10 devices, and as of Dec. 21 of last year, had only sold roughly 5.6 million BB10 devices in the entire year. Compare that to nine million iPhone 5c’s and 5s’ sold in the first weekend they launched and you see just how brutally the BB10 operating system failed.
While BlackBerry thought their new OS would help catapult their sales and resurrect the company, consumers were turned off because the BB10 functioned differently from the old BB7 model, while big businesses (which account for about 80 per cent of BlackBerry usage) backed away from the new models because BB10 devices couldn’t be hooked up to the older BlackBerry Enterprise Server systems that a large number of the big customers used.
Throw in a $4.4-billion loss in their latest quarter, thousands of job losses, the hiring and firing of CEO Thorsten Heins then hiring of current CEO John Chen, BlackBerry filing a patent lawsuit against startup company Typo and a new five-year partnership with Taiwan-based Foxconn to have them produce and keep inventory of the BlackBerry handsets, and you see 2013 was quite the year for BlackBerry.
It will certainly be hard for the company to do any worse in 2014, and I think they won’t.
Under new management with a new vision for the company, I believe BlackBerry is finally on its way to spinning out of their dramatic slump.
Chen shares the thought, and is banking on BlackBerry Messenger (BBM) being a money-maker in the new year, based on its success on the Android and iPhone markets.
Chen suggests revenues from BBM might come from a per-user per-month model or by the use of advertising, but admits, “we’re a long way from knowing how to do it.”