1 Feb 2013

Blackberry 10: Too Little, Too Late

Blackberry 10 - Z10 & Q10

The company formerly known as RIM finally launched their last-ditch effort to remain relevant in the mobile industry by announcing the Blackberry Z10 & Q10 - the first devices to be based on the long-delayed Blackberry 10 operating system. The company even changed its name to "Blackberry" to drive home their focus. Unfortunately, these moves seem to be "too little, too late". Let's take a look at why that is the case.

1. Pricing & Lack of Emerging Market Focus

Blackberry seems to be making the same mistakes that have plagued Nokia under Stephen Elop. The pricing of the Blackberry Z10 & Q10 "flagship" devices seem to be squarely aimed at developed markets. The fact that less than 40% of Blackberry's Q3 revenue came from the US, UK & Canada clearly shows that emerging markets have kept them afloat so far. The pricing of BB10 devices will severely limit emerging market demand, while lower cost competitors continue to gain steam and move up-market.

2. Defensive Move

Blackberry's marketing focus clearly hints that their moves with BB10 are defensive in nature. Their goal seems to be to sell BB10 devices to existing Blackberry users to ensure that their subscriber base does not continue to decline. Given the state of the Blackberry subscriber base in the US, the price points & market focus make even less sense. Switching existing enterprise users over to BB10 will not save the company, and even that seems to be a long shot. As flawed as Nokia's Lumia strategy was, at least their marketing strategy seemed to target users of competing platforms.

3. Incremental Improvements

While a few Blackberry 10 features may appeal to certain consumer segments, they are unlikely to abandon their current ecosystems for BB10's relatively sparse platform. At the end of the day, much like Windows Phone, all new BB10 features are incremental improvements - an outcome of "playing catch-up" with Android and iOS. It is very difficult to "out-innovate" established platforms when you find yourself so far behind. Blackberry needed a truly disruptive platform to grab consumer attention and Blackberry 10 is not it.


While there may be some pent-up demand for BB10 devices at launch, I don't expect consumer interest to last. I expect BB10 sales to fail to match even Nokia's Lumia portfolio. Blackberry's goal was to use a successful launch to drum up OEM interest in licensing the BB10 platform, but a break-up sale may be a more likely outcome.