This past Friday John Chen delivered something that CEOs rarely provide – Clarity.
Clarity on where things currently are and Clarity on where things are going.
Wait, you say! There was no mention of future handsets, either OS10 or Android. What’s a BlackBerry fan to do?
Let’s take a breath and reflect on what John Chen has said from the very beginning – he is going to focus on the 4 Pillars of BlackBerry- Handsets, Enterprise/Software, BBM, and QNX.
Let’s briefly review each.
This wholly-owned division is in over 60 million vehicles and accounting for approximately 50% of the infotainment systems in new vehicles. Currently working on advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) aka fully autonomous vehicles or driver-less cars. QNX just recently rolled out BlackBerry RADAR designed to increase efficiencies and profitability in the freight industry. QNX is also at the heart of numerous applications including-
- Unmanned aircraft control systems¹
- Acoustic sensors for tracking tank movements
- JTRS wireless military radios
- High capacity data radios
- Autonomous underwater vehicles
- Guidance systems for anti-tank weapons
- Embedded controllers for aerospace applications
- Wearable GPS/communication systems for ground troops
- Transponder landing systems
- Military weather satellite test beds
Finally, QNX support is legendary – QNX4 was introduced in 1991 and is still supported today!
The best instant messaging client for smartphones. Securely sends text messages, videos, voice notes, and voice calls. You can share music, photos, your location, and functions across all platforms. In addition, in some areas phone minutes and money can be transferred. Further development continues…
With BES12 functioning securely across all platforms and offering cloud-based security it is no wonder why BlackBerry is the MDM/EMM leader in the industry.
In response to those nattering nabobs of negativism, John Chen was crystal clear – currently BlackBerry has a 70% retention rate with their MDM/EMM solutions and their goal is to increase that to 80% in 1 years time. Given that target, abandoning OS10 would be tantamount to shooting the goose that lays the golden egg.
John Chen was perfectly candid – handsets have not been profitable despite decreases in the cost of production and a decent average sales price (ASP). The decision whether to remain in the handset business may be revisited later this year. Hopefully things will move forward with their direct sales plan bypassing the heavily biased Carriers. If not, something tells me this will not be a decision he will take lightly.
The reasons for less than stellar sales are multifactorial- BlackBerry’s OS10 is simply the best platform available. Period. When you couple this with the quality of their hardware you don’t need to replace your smartphone every year or two. A 3 year-old BlackBerry handset running OS10 (ex: Z10) can run circles around the new offering from the other platforms. Is it nice to buy a new BlackBerry every time one is introduced? YOU BET! Is it necessary, not really.
And speaking of the other platforms, BlackBerry owners, reviewers, and critics should never fall into the trap of comparing a BlackBerry to the other platforms. The largest platform accounts for 84% of market share and builds cheap, over specced phones which lag and break after a year of heavy use. The second in market share runs the worst OS available and cripples customers with their so called ecosystem. BlackBerry serves a security and productivity niche and is mainly focusing on software. To compare these platforms is purely apples and oranges.