BlackBerry's Chen Thinks Net Neutrality Should Be Expanded to Apps

By Todd R. Weiss  |  Posted 2015-01-22 Print this article Print
apps, BlackBerry, developers

"They're in a very different position now than about eight years ago," said Maycock. "I don't think he would be advocating for the level of openness now if they were in as dominant a position today as they were in the late 1990s. Theirs was the one platform that was the most closed-off platform back then."

Now that BlackBerry is no longer on top of the market, "it's a very different story," said Maycock. "I don't think it's a coincidence that this comes side-by-side with the collapse of their business."

Charles King, principal analyst of Pund-IT, said that Chen's ideas for app parity are essentially too late, even though the company's new products are some of the best it's produced in years.

"You can't force developers to create work in markets that are apparently shrinking," said King. "Developers are like other good capitalists—they follow the money. BlackBerry is no longer where the money is nowadays."

Worse for Chen, said King, is that by comparing the app situation to net neutrality, he is making a comparison that is a big mistake. "That seems to really irritate people," King said. "In no way is that equal to assuring equal access to high-performance Internet access."

If Chen really wants BlackBerry users to have equal access to the most popular apps, then he might want to consider an even more radical idea, said King. "If Chen looked around, there is a way around this problem that he sees and that's to dump BlackBerry OS and adopt Android. That actually would provide a way forward that would be workable. This hope for a lifeline from the Canadian or other governments seems to me to be a non-starter."

In December 2014, BlackBerry's fiscal 2015 third-quarter earnings report showed revenue continued to fall in the quarter, down 13.43 percent to $793 million from the prior quarter. The good news for the period was that its losses fell 28.5 percent to $148 million.

The $793 million in revenue is a drop from the $916 million posted in the company's second fiscal 2015 quarter, which were reported in September 2014. The $148 million loss is an improvement from the $207 million loss that was posted at that time. The company's per-share loss was 28 cents, compared with a loss of 39 cents per share in the second quarter.

BlackBerry launched its latest new smartphone, the $449 BlackBerry Classic, in December 2014, just a few months after unveiling its $599 BlackBerry Passport smartphone for enterprise users last September.

As 2015 begins, BlackBerry appears to be hard at work as it seeks to rebuild its reputation and market presence after some difficult years. BlackBerry's fall from dominating the enterprise smartphone market has been swift and stunning. The company spent much of 2012 and 2013 trying to shake off the image that it was finished, especially compared with its presence five years earlier when its devices were the "enterprise gold standard" for mobile business communications, according to earlier eWEEK reports. In early 2006, half of all smartphones sold were BlackBerry models. By 2009, though, its share of the global smartphone market was down to 20 percent.


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