I don’t know about you, but I am tired of hearing that BlackBerry may stop making smartphones. Do you know how many times that line has been drummed into our ears in the last few years? Run a search here on MobilityArena.com to see for yourself. I am tired, please. And it is the press’ fault. Instead on writing stuff that makes for stimulating discussion, it is easier to write spectacular headlines.
BlackBerry CEO made quite a number of interesting statements, which the press has ignored and instead focussed on the tired, repeated line about how BlackBerry may stop making smartphones.
Here is an excerpt from a statement by John Chen:
Enterprises are increasingly aware of the security and privacy risks that their mobile devices pose. So are consumers. Moreover, the Android smartphone market is massive – 1.2 billion users globally today, according to IDC, growing to 1.53 billion over the next 4 years. I don’t think it’s unreasonable to believe that BlackBerry will find a strong audience here.
Finally, anyone who has been watching closely what I’ve been trying to do at BlackBerry has surely heard me say that we would not stay in the device business if we were not profitable. This is nothing new, and I’ve repeated this many times recently. That said, we are doing everything possible to make our devices profitable. We are committed to both the success of PRIV as well as supporting governments and other customers that demand the security and performance of our BlackBerry 10 devices.
At the same time, I mentioned several features coming in PRIV (left) that will help it rise to the very top security-wise, even among secure Android phones. There’s the unique key in the chipset of every PRIV smartphone to authenticate the Android OS, so users can be confident their PRIV is not running malicious firmware that could violate their privacy or security. There’s our ability to patch vulnerabilities much faster than other Android smartphone makers, and other features I didn’t mention. It’s why I firmly believe PRIV will be MORE resilient than everything else.
I’m enthusiastic about the coming launch of PRIV. I personally love this phone, and, judging by the reaction out there, I think many of you will, too.
The media has gone to town with headlines about Blackberry likely to stop making smartphones as if that’s something new. It is old. It is stale. It isn’t news in any way. The media was shouting that before John Chen become CEO. Chen himself has repeated it to no end that it is an option if they do not make profits on their smartphones.
So, what is new? That is the real question. Let me help you fish out the pearls in Chen’s statements, along with some of my own projections:
- BlackBerry is looking to make money by riding on Android OS because it has the largest pie of the market and also provides a huge opportunity because of BlackBerry’s unique strength
- that huge opportunity is security: make an Android phone that is as secure as a Blackberry and the enterprise market will bite. Remember that Chen had said earlier that BlackBerry would rethink its decision to make BlackBerry 10 phones if they find a way to secure Android at the same level as OS10. Since they are making an Android phone now, it must be that they have found a way to do it – or close enough. Many individuals who stick to BlackBerry for security will bite too. This is the ace that BlackBerry has to play in the Android experiment: security. Without that ace, Android ecosystem is certain graveyard: look at how many Android OEMs are struggling.
- There is also the issue of apps: an Android-powered Blackberry means that the complaints about lack of apps (example:Uber!) or outdated apps (I’m looking at that twitter for BB10 app) will be removed.
- If the Android experiment works and makes money for BlackBerry, I can tell you upfront that BlackBerry OS is history. The company will stop making them.
- If the Android experiment fails and BlackBerry continues to run a loss on all hardware fronts, BlackBerry OS is history.
- In other words, however this goes, BlackBerry OS (whether legacy or OS10) has come to the end of its life.
These are the real important stuff. BlackBerry OS is history no matter how this experiment plays out. If the security card doesn’t win BlackBerry a profitable share of the Android market, BlackBerry smartphones too are altogether history. End of debate.
The PRIV running Android OS is BlackBerry’s last chance at returning to a profitable hardware business. OS10 has failed at bringing about that change. I love OS10, but an Android smartphone as secure as a BlackBerry device will tick all the right boxes with some icing on top and capture more people’s attention. Whether or not it will sell enough to keep Blackberry’s hardware business afloat is what we all wait for now.