Is BlackBerry morphing into a services company?

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Since yesterday’s announcement that BlackBerry Messenger will be going cross-platform, everywhere has been abuzz with discussions about the subject. Everywhere one turns in these parts, one or two people are saying something about the announcement. As far as we can see here at Mobility, the vast majority of those talking about it are saying that BlackBerry smartphone sales and users will automatically drop. Many current BlackBerry smartphone users are saying that there is now no motivation to stay on the platform, as they can explore. Users on competing smartphone platforms are happy that they do not have to get a BlackBerry smartphone in order to keep in touch with their contacts on BBM. The noise is almost deafening, and the verdict is that this move will hurt Blackberry smartphone sales.

Here are examples of the sort of conversations going on around the subject:

So, if this move is going to hurt BlackBerry’s hardware business, why go ahead with it? Here is Kwami‘s take on it:

That makes sense. BlackBerry’s software and services have been top notch. Why not? Then he follows that up with a clincher:

In other words, BlackBerry is in transition from being a hardware business to a software/services business. This makes sense to me, though there has been no official word from BlackBerry. Look at the picture again: making BBM cross-platform will almost kill BlackBerry smartphones, but will open up BBM to a wider user base. The bet is clearly in favour of BBM delivering greater value than sales of their smartphones.

I lean in with Kwami on this. Already, Windows Phone is catching up with BlackBerry OS in terms of smartphone market share. BlackBerry smartphones look to be heading for a niche. It looks to me like BlackBerry is about to become a services business. Like Google. And Microsoft.

But it isn’t just Kwami and I who share this sentiment. Here:

Over to you. What do you make of the whole thing?


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  1. With what is supposed to be their lifeline in the hands of their rivals…that could just be the case.

    I’m not really a fan of BlackBerry smartphone. I only bought my BlackBerry because of the cheap subscription packages and and my numerous BBM user friends.

    With BBM going crosss-platform, I see my self porting already.

  2. When I read the news yesterday about BlackBerry getting onto Android and IOS platforms, the first thing that came to mind was the fact that that would be the final nail to be driven into their coffin as a hardware company.

    I mean, except there’s something we don’t know, why would you readily give out that prized possession that earned you a niche in the market?

    I won’t be surprised if in the no too distant future Samsung for instance makes a bid to buy BlackBerry.

    In any case, since BB says BBM will be available on Androids running at least ice cream sandwich OS, I have readily positioned myself by placing an order (courtesy of Mobility) for the budget Tecno N7 with my BB 9360 getting set to be bade farewell.

  3. // The bet is clearly in favour of
    BBM delivering greater value
    than sales of their

    I hope so.

    fact is, there is NOTHING you can offer in software that can not be matched and even surpassed by rivals!

    unless you ALREADY have enough stranglehold the way Facebook does, or you have some awesome leverage the way Google has.

    How can a company as big as BlackBerry kill its hardware business and focus on a software area with soooo many capable competitors?

    Whatsapp, anyone? iMessage, ChatOn, Viber,…


  4. If Blackberry’s success as a phone manufacturer hinges on only one service, then they have no business making phones. The fact of the matter is, they need to come up with other compelling reasons for people to want to use a Blackberry, and I think they realise that. In the next few years, BBM would have been overshadowed by the likes of Whatsapp completely. Making it cross platform more or less ensures its continued usage and even gives it room to grow as a service, retaining its high level of popularity.

  5. I think this article captures the direction BlackBerry is headed. There’s no denying that BBM is one strong and unique selling point for BlackBerry devices and has held down a few really devoted BlackBerry fans to the platform, but when the user base of the platform keeps shrinking and with what we’ve learnt from news, the new BB10 not doing so well and some reported returns of some of the purchased devices, BlackBerry must have done a proper analysis and realized that the user base is no longer strong enough to sustain their business and yes, services from WhatsApp and the like are seriously diminishing the importance of the BBM and with the continued user base increase of these viable alternatives, will definitely overshadow BBM and finally kill off BlackBerry.

    Offering BBM to other platforms like iOS and Android could really save the service and make BlackBerry still relevant in some way.

    How can a company as big as BlackBerry kill its hardware business and focus on a software area with soooo many capable competitors?

    I’m not a fan of BlackBerry, but I think BlackBerry could be stronger than the others if they make all or most of the features available on BB devices also available on Android and iOS devices. From what I learnt from one BB user on how BBM is superior to WhatsApp is that you are not restricted to sending only media files through the service, and that’s a huge advantage in my opinion and I will definitely use the service if only for this feature. There are some other minor features I’ve heard about which though are not compelling enough to make me buy a BB device, would be enough reason for me to want to try the service when it comes to Android.

  6. The question is, how does blakberry intend to make money off BBM. Even if bbm catches on on android and ios, there is no guarantee of revenue. Instagram has lots of users on both platforms but it doesn’t generate a dime. Blackberry needs a source of revenue ASAP.

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