When John Chen took over as CEO of BlackBerry he categorically stated that he had to take the company back to its roots.
Because no one else in the market can deliver the one thing BlackBerry can. Those platforms can be hacked and cracked. BlackBerry can’t. Simple as that. And it’s what made BlackBerry popular in the old days with governments and big business.
BlackBerry has a security USP (Unique Selling Point) which all BlackBerrians are pretty much aware of. It’s how BlackBerry got cool in the first place with the consumer market, you wanted what the big boys had. And that aspiration quickly grew into a flood which pretty much killed the old Nokia dominance at the time.
And then Apple and Samsung came along and basically outmarketed a company which had sort of gained global market share by accident just for being so darned good. But who didn’t really know what they were doing when the marketeers moved in. The ethos at RIM was, ‘well, we got huge by being so good, we’ll do it again’ only now no one was listening in the consumer market and besides, RIM/BlackBerry (in 2013) were utterly useless at telling the consumer market WHY these phones were better than the rest anyway (which they are).
So, John Chen took over and took a hit.
He basically retrenched the company, decided to ignore consumer losses until he was ready. He will have said to his staff, ‘In the short term, forget the carriers, forget the lies told about us to the consumer by the competition. We WILL lose consumer market share. Of that there is no doubt. And we will be pilloried for it. It doesn’t matter. Because we will protect our core business first. And then we will be back when we are good and ready.’
Which, to be fair, is a bit annoying for those of us out here listening to the lies told about BlackBerry and extremely frustrating when you KNOW your friend, who you advised to get one, listens the THE SALES REP and ends up with a vastly inferior device. But we must have patience…
Because when John Chen is good and ready, he delivers. And anyone watching Chen recently can see that he is gearing himself up to get back into the consumer market – hard. It started with Indonesia and is coming your way, pretty much East to West. More on THAT later.
Anyway, where does the island of Jersey come into this?
Well, to keep the home fires burning BEFORE he could make waves back in consumer world Chen needed to ring fence and secure governmental income. He needed to make sure that governments, above all, didn’t catch the Apple/Android disease that has infected the consumer market and had crept into the enterprise (business) market. That of believing that a phone was just a phone. That security doesn’t matter. It’s the ONE AREA LEFT that Apple and Android couldn’t touch BlackBerry, and they were starting to encroach – not in technology (that doesn’t really work), but in marketing and buzz speak (Project Knox, anyone? That’s gone a bit quiet).
Why were they doing this? Not just because they want the money. They are SCARED STIFF of BlackBerry coming back. They want this company squashed, once and for all – but it keeps on coming back. Because they KNOW – deep down – that QNX as a platform is FAR superior to what they can do.
So, Chen needed to secure the governmental income. And the island of Jersey gives you a good idea of just how lucrative that is.
Jersey is situated off the southern coast of England and the northern coast of France and is one of the Channel Islands. It is one of those legally weird places in that it is a part of the UK but not at the same time and is self governing.
It therefore has it’s own Government, Assembly (Parliament) and Legal structure. It has a total population of 97,857 (according to the 2011 census).
The government is very smart and issues BlackBerry smartphones to it’s 330 employees.
According to the BBC, that contract is worth £114,000 per year (roughly $150,000) with the local carrier, of which BlackBerry gets a very tidy slice indeed.
So, if a tiny island like Jersey is worth that kind of money, what is the US contract like? Or UK? Or Germany?
You can see why he said what he said.
I know it’s frustrating for us all, when we hear the twaddle peddled by sales reps (oh, BlackBerry is dead, don’t make phones anymore, no apps) rubbish but guys, hang on in there…
Keep the faith.
It’s what they needed to do then.
You can see the first signs of it with the Z3 launch…
BlackBerry are The Gathering Storm.
It’s all going to plan.
Wait and see.