It’s fair to say that in the eyes of most of today’s consumers and businesses, BlackBerry is a thing of the past.While it was already a staple ingredient in the pockets of businesspeople, the BlackBerry rose to popularity among millennial consumers in the late noughties. This was down to the fact it was cheaper than the iPhone and still came with social functions like emails at the core of its design alongside the treasured BlackBerry Messenger (BBM). It was the beginning of the end for the once loved smartphone manufacturer back in October 2011, however, when it outraged its customers with a BlackBerry service outage that spanned four days. You’ll know four hours to be a lifetime when clinching a deal or waiting for your crush to message you back, so imagine how four days of broken communications felt to its customers. It paved the way for Apple’s iPhone, Samsung’s Galaxy and other Android smartphones to begin eating into BlackBerry’s market share. The trend resulted in an awkward strategy from the Canadian company that saw management titles traded numerous times, including the hiring and firing of celebrated musician Alicia Keys, a failed new operating system launch, until the firm eventually retreated to its original roots and put enterprise users back at the heart of the business. Look around today, however, whether on a train or walking down the street. Even the most eagle-eyed of people watchers will have a hard time spotting a BlackBerry user as big-screened devices from Apple and Samsung continue to lead the charge. Knowing full well that business clients are its bread and butter, BlackBerry is laser-focused on delivering support for its remaining user base. Its big announcements at Mobile World Congress 2015 included the launch of the Leap smartphone for young professionals and also a cross-platform mobility cloud for SMEs. In an attempt to eliminate any outside interference to shrink its market share, BlackBerry has paid out $425 to acquire Good Technology – “the leader in secure mobility, delivering solutions across all stages of the mobility lifecycle for enterprises and governments worldwide”. The firm said the takeover is in keeping with its strategy to offer customers a complete and secure mobile enterprise solution. Seemingly former global creative director Keys didn’t help that ambition.
The “complementary capabilities and technologies” from Good will allow BlackBerry to offer totally cross-platform services for firms with BYOD and various operating systems, like iOS and Android. Indeed, 64 per cent of Good’s activations are for iOS devices like the iPhone and iPad, while Android and Windows are said to account for a “broad” customer base. John Chen, BlackBerry CEO, said: “By acquiring Good, BlackBerry will better solve one of the biggest struggles for CIOs today, especially those in regulated industries: securely managing devices across any platform. “By providing even stronger cross-platform capabilities our customers will not have to compromise on their choice of operating systems, deployment models or any level of privacy and security. “Like BlackBerry, Good has a very strong presence in enterprises and governments around the world and, with this transaction, BlackBerry will enhance its sales and distribution capabilities and further grow its enterprise software revenue stream.” Said presence is so strong, in fact, that Good boasts “more than 6,200 organisations in 189 countries [using its tech] including 100% of the Fortune 100 commercial banks and aerospace and defence firms as well as leaders across healthcare, manufacturing and retail”. The deal between the pair is set to be completed by the end of BlackBerry’s 2016 Q3, depending on approvals from regulators. Christy Wyatt, Good CEO, said: “We are excited to join BlackBerry, where together we will be the most comprehensive mobile platform in the market. Good has worked hard to deliver the highest levels of security across operating systems and applications. Our trusted Good solutions will also help BlackBerry to accelerate its Internet of Things platform for managing endpoints beyond mobile devices.” We’ve already established that the days of BlackBerry device popularity are behind, but the manufacturing days are almost up entirely, according to Richard Windsor, analyst at Edison Investment Research. “BlackBerry’s days as a handset vendor are numbered. Good has had a chequered history after being purchased by Motorola, then being sold on to Visto and now finally being sold again to BlackBerry,” he said. Windsor highlighted that BlackBerry would be within its rights to put all of its eggs in one basket and focus on software, admitting hardware defeat and folding the division. “BlackBerry’s device market share is now so small that it is just not worth the investment to try and use hardware to deliver its service. Mobile devices are now such a commodity that there is no reason whatsoever for BlackBerry to still be making them,” he explained. “With a differentiated enterprise mobility offering it has a chance to deliver good returns but the longer it holds onto hardware, the greater the losses that are likely to be incurred. I still struggle to see value in BlackBerry while hardware still exists and Good still has to be integrated, but there is a tiny whiff of a recovery in the air.” By Zen Terrelonge
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