Blackberry Likely to Remain Niche Despite Positive Reviews
One of the most followed sagas within the technology industry during 2012 was the survival of Canadian smartphone manufacturer RIM, with serious questions being asked as to whether the company has lost so much ground to Apple and Samsung to have any relevance in the market. RIM responded to this by urging the market to keep an eye on its BlackBerry 10 platform as it will be the savior of the company.
However, despite early positive sentiment, BlackBerry is likely to remain a niche company.
RIM launched the BlackBerry 10 platform on January 30 amidst much fanfare and high expectation. The launch of the service, as well as a number of new products, generated mostly positive reviews with a number of customers and analysts. However, there are some analysts and phone manufacturers feel the new platform is not compelling enough to move the company beyond being a niche player, saying its services are not enough to appeal to a market outside of its existing customers.
Adam Leach, principal analyst at Ovum, said the BlackBerry 10 platform offers a differentiated user experience in today’s crowded and homogenous smartphone market, and the Z10 and Q10 will “stand out” from the Android handsets and look distinct from Apple’s iPhone.
“The user experience of BlackBerry 10 introduces some nice new features but importantly builds on BlackBerry’s user interface (UI) heritage and therefore will certainly appeal to existing BlackBerry users,” Leach said.
Technology website zdnet.com took to the streets of Singapore to gage public opinion on the news services and products and many were not impressed.
The site pointed out that William Foo, who owns an iPhone as well as a company-issued BlackBerry smartphone, said it was a combination of factors that make BlackBerry devices less compelling. “It’s not my primary phone, the screen is too small for any use, and there aren’t many interesting apps.”
The best way to determine whether the company will make an impact outside of its existing user base is to base it on sales. Informa Telecoms & Media principal analyst Malik Saadi said the company should aim to sell at least 1-million units of its newly launched Z10 device within the first quarter of its launch date, as anything below this figure would question the company’s ability to execute its marketing strategy. Saadi adds that anything above 3-million units would be a spectacular performance and would significantly lift consumers and investors confidence in the company.
RIM is pinning all of the company’s revival hopes on the success of BlackBerry 10, so much so that at the launch of the new platform the company announced that it would be rebranding itself as BlackBerry. I feel that the sales target of 1-million units is ambitious but is achievable if the company can prove that the BlackBerry 10 platform is reliable and its user interface offers benefits that Apple and Android don’t. I would like to hear your thoughts below.