Why BlackBerry Security Summit Lacked Talk of New Phones

By Todd R. Weiss  |  Posted 2015-07-25 Print this article Print
BlackBerry, smartphones, iOS, Android, enterprise mobile, mobile users

Could BlackBerry take the approach of Nokia, which recently confirmed its plans to once again get back into the smartphone device business (which it sold to Microsoft in 2014) by licensing its designs to others instead of building and marketing the devices themselves?

That could happen, Hazelton, said, but the "challenge there is if that distracts from their brand and from their enterprise security software" business. "They could give someone a shot, even on a temporary basis for two years and then they could get it back if it's not working out" by licensing it. "They might see a much larger opportunity, though, as a security software provider. The device business is a pretty low-margin business anyway."

One giant risk of a licensing approach, though, would be if another company didn't put as much emphasis on security with a future device that is branded a BlackBerry, said Hazelton. "There is a history and pride with BlackBerry's security capabilities—and their worst nightmare would be a future 'BlackBerry' device that is not secure."

BlackBerry certainly still has an interest in the high-end smartphone market, said Hazelton, especially when it comes to targeting senior managers inside high-end organizations. "The problem is that the BlackBerry brand in the eyes of consumers is just not what it once was. In enterprises, there is still a lot of value," but most enterprise applications development today involves iOS, he said.

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 recent report from IDC. Windows Phone has a 2.7 percent market share.

BlackBerry certainly isn't tossing in the towel on its smartphones today, but it may only be a matter of time before it starts looking at other options. There are plenty of former typewriter company executives, Western Union telegram office managers and Circuit City electronics store leaders who failed to make needed changes in time, before their firms no longer had a business to be in.



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