BlackBerry Moving to Android Over BB10 for Smartphones in 2016
Charles King, principal analyst at Pund-IT, wrote in an email reply to an eWEEK inquiry that BlackBerry's decision makes sense. "We've come a long way from the time when an OS purely or largely defined a user's end experience," he wrote. "Instead, vendors are contending with customers who demand a more personalized experience, and the simplest way to accomplish that is via an app ecosystem." That wouldn't be something that BlackBerry can do nowadays, wrote King, which is why the switch to Android is understandable. "BlackBerry no longer has the user base or financial wherewithal to build and support an app ecosystem of its own, so embracing Android offers the best avenue to accomplish that," wrote King. "In addition, the company has really stepped up its game in terms of product design," wrote King. "Combining that new creative spirit with the richness of Android has made BlackBerry a company worthy of users' attention and consideration." Rob Enderle, principal analyst of Enderle Group, told eWEEK in an email reply that the switch to Android also makes sense for the company because it had fallen too far behind the app curve and could never catch up in a way that would satisfy end users. "By adapting Android, Blackberry is again able to positively differentiate on what they do best and put the app problem behind them resulting in a far more popular and successful phone," wrote Enderle.Another analyst, Jan Dawson, chief analyst of Jackdaw Research, told eWEEK in an email reply that while the move wasn't surprising, "it's come a bit quicker than I would have expected. And if they really do go through this whole year with no new BB10 phones, then BB10 is dead," he added. "There's no way to resurrect it at that point, and if their Android phones are doing well, why would they want to?" Avi Greengart, a consumer platforms and devices analyst with Current Analysis, wrote in an email reply that the switch to Android was necessary if the company is to meet its goal of selling more handsets to increase its business. "BlackBerry's OS10 unit sales have been steadily dropping, [so] if the company is going to get anywhere near the five million unit run rate Chen says is needed for sustainability, it will have to sell more Android phones," Greengart wrote. "If consumers value the BlackBerry brand and physical QWERTY experience, they'd better start buying Privs. If they don't, BlackBerry will almost certainly exit the hardware business entirely next year." BlackBerry's fall from dominating the enterprise smartphone market has been swift and stunning. In early 2006, before the first iPhones appeared from Apple, half of all smartphones sold were BlackBerry models. By 2009, though, its share of the global smartphone market was down to 20 percent. The company continues to face growing competition from Apple, Samsung, Google and others. In the first quarter of 2015, BlackBerry's worldwide market share fell to 0.3 percent, compared with 78 percent for Android and 18.3 percent for iOS, according to a report from IDC. Windows Phone had a 2.7 percent market share.
For BlackBerry, "in hind sight, the only negative about this is they should have done it much sooner," wrote Enderle.