September 22, 2013 6:24 pm
Updated: September 25, 2013 3:10 pm

BlackBerry next…what should consumers know?


It’s been all bad news for BlackBerry in the past week, again.

Adding to the fact the company is looking at being divvied up and sold to outside interests, this past week’s earnings reports all but sealed the fate as the BlackBerry we have known, and cheered on as Canadians.

The company has now said it will be laying off 4,500 employees, sooner than was initially reported, obviously making it a more attractive buy. It’s also facing a $1 billion write-down on its newest Z10 smart phones.

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I lot of us have pontificated on why and how BlackBerry got into this mess in the first place. Well, that’s history. Let’s take a look at what happened since the last big company change when Thorsten Heins took over succeed BlackBerry company founders Jim Balsillie and Mike Lazaridis as President and CEO of BlackBerry in January 2012.

I will give Heins credit for a multi-prong campaign for trying to bring the glory back to BlackBerry. But an industry that can’t be turned around in less than six months of concept, design, manufacturing and the all-important apps developer base, is an uphill climb. And that is without hitches, which BlackBerry had with additional delays for their new OS 10 phone.

And then there is Heins, who came from a techie background and never did match the magnetism of the late Steve Jobs and the early years of Bill Gates, both being able to draw full house product launches.

OK, that’s business in the fast lane of telecommunications, but where does that leave the consumer?

I have been talking to high level folks in the cellco industry and owners of third party partner stores on their thoughts on BlackBerry and what might happen to consumer owners of older, current and future BlackBerry phone owners (BlackBerry recently announced a new bigger Z30, out in several weeks.

Here is the general consensus from my discussion, not attributed to specific folks for obvious reasons.

-BlackBerry needs a much better charismatic and persuasive leader and a clear and focused strategy moving forward.

-Cellcos were rooting for BlackBerry’s success and all shared a common lower enthusiasm in dealing with Apple, the company many cellphone providers dislike but whose obviously smart products they love.

-What is the best scenario for current BlackBerry consumers? They will continue to use the phones and OS10, but under ownership of someone else. Warranties, even possibly sales of new models, especially cheaper models to third world countries, could continue.

-What is the worst case scenario? The phones would cease to sell, current owners would still have to pay them off before switching.

-What kind of middle ground scenario is there? Cellcos working with the new owners of the BlackBerry phone division, would have a trade-in program for other popular phones, likely an Android based model.

-Who would benefit buying BlackBerry’s best asset? Google, whose Android phone “open” ecosystem needs the biggest security improvement. It needs it so bad, that partner Samsung has already introduced its BlackBerry BES-like KNOX secure system for its own model phones.

-What holds the most value in BlackBerry? Their business secure network still coveted by many large companies.

-How is the new BlackBerry Z10 different from older models? BlackBerry Z10, Q10, Q5 consumer phones do not have their email handled through the famously secure and instant email BlackBerry servers. That is now handled by the Rogers, Telus and Bell folks. That’s why data plans for these new BlackBerry phones were $10 cheaper per month.

-What do you think of the BlackBerry Z10 as a phone? All liked it. It is efficient, easy to use, takes advantage of quick sweeping motions from all directions to get things done ,something competitors including Apple,  introduced six months later. And it’s still the fastest touchscreen typing phone around with its on-key word prediction. That’s why I personally use the Z10 for tight deadline stories away from home.

-Who will cellcos root for next? No doubt, the Microsoft Windows Phone whose potential is huge, playing an active part in the new Xbox One ecosystem. No doubt, Microsoft’s recently purchased Nokia will play a big part in that too.

Stay tuned

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