A Brief History
The first BlackBerry device was released on the market in 1999, serving as an email pager, long before the evolution of the smart phone later in the 2000s. Until 2012, the BlackBerry was one of the most popular smart phones in the world, and was frequently used by Barack Obama during his presidential campaign in 2008.
A Brand that witnessed Phenomenal Growth between 2003 and 2012
By 2003, the brand had just over half a million subscribers; three years later this figure increased by almost tenfold to 4.9 million. By the end of 2012, BlackBerry had approximately 80 million subscribers, although the brand witnessed a decline in the following months, losing 8 million subscribers in just six months by June 2013.
Once the second largest smart Phone Vendor
In 2009, the brand was the second most popular smart phone vendor, after Nokia, but failed to maintain consumer enthusiasm after the new releases of the iPhone and Android devices, which, in the eyes of many consumers, provided more user-friendly designs and more innovative platforms.
The Passport to Growth?
The new BlackBerry Passport is not the cheapest model on the market, but it certainly has a great deal to offer with regards to innovation and character. The 4.5 inch screen, three-row physical keyboard and excellent 1440 x 1440 resolution will certainly attract professional customers and enterprises, and the powerful Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 processor will help BlackBerry build a reputation as a market leader when it comes to performance.
32GB of on-Board Memory
The Passport’s 32GB of on-board memory can be extended up to an impressive 128GB via a MicroSD card, something that should certainly capture the interests of enterprise that constantly exchange high volumes of data. Users can also run up to 10 apps simultaneously and take photos with the phone’s high quality 13 megapixel camera.
A new product Paid for by Recent Job cuts
Despite the recent launch of Passport, the Canadian company achieved a revenue below $1 billion in the most recent quarter, which is about 20 percent of what it was making three years ago. In September 2013, BlackBerry revealed a plan to cut 4,500 jobs, a move that led to a 17 percent fall in the company’s shares and a 40 percent reduction in its total workforce.
A long term recovery plan?
This drastic decision is really a carefully conceived plan to cut labour costs and gear investments towards new hardware. With Passport, BlackBerry is intent on focusing on enterprise customers, although the company may struggle to regain its peak market share because it is already allowing its sever software to become compatible with iOS and Android devices.
The future of BlackBerry – can the Passport be the brand’s successful comeback?
According to the former chief executive of BlackBerry, Thorston Heins, the company has continued to work through ‘operational changes’ to look at its position in the market. He has stated that the firm will endeavour to focus on ‘end-to-end’ hardware solutions for businesses and professionals, following the disappointing sales of its Z10 model smart phone, which shipped fewer than 3 million of its 6.8 million models in the three months to June 1st, 2013.
For now, it’s back to basics
The current chief executive, John Chen, says BlackBerry is going ‘back to basics’ , having recently released its new Q20 and Z3 products under its partnership with Foxconn, an electronics manufacturer. Restoring confidence among employees, he says, is his ‘biggest challenge’ in the next year. Ultimately, Chen believes that the long term success of BlackBerry and the brand’s ability to ‘capture a lot of attention’ will be determined by how much profit it makes from its new offerings like the Passport.
Alex Viall is the Director of Mustard IT a London based company which offers professional IT Support to businesses. Alex, like many people has a soft spot for Blackberry, but feels that with the technological advances of other manufacturers, Blackberry will have to produce something spectacular.