Sometimes it’s like we’re all stuck in 2013…
Yes, it’s BlackBerry bashing time again and this weeks accolade for ‘man stuck in the past’ goes to Charles Arthur of The Guardian, here in the UK. Charles has a very impressive CV – he may just be a contributor now, but he used to be the technology editor there for the past NINE YEARS, as well as previously being the science, health and technology correspondent at The Independent.
So, he won’t get it wrong, will he? Surely his finger is on the pulse of all things tech?
Oh yes he will! Here we go…
BlackBerry left on the line as UK users continue to hang up
BlackBerry will have fewer than 1 million users outside businesses in the UK by the end of the year, a radical slump from a peak of nearly 8 million in June 2012, according to new research from two companies.
The dramatic fall from grace of the iconic mobile phones, which were blamed for spreading unrest during the London riots of summer 2011 , follows a series of high-profile and expensive flops – first with its PlayBook tablet and then with the touchscreen Z10 phone, as it tried to catch rivals such as Samsung and Apple.
Starting on a high note Charles blames BlackBerry themselves for rioting in London 4 years ago. Impressive! And then of course its back to 2013, blah, blah…
The firm has also plunged into operating losses and seen revenues dwindle for 11 of the past 12 quarters. In a bid to cut costs, it has fired thousands of staff.
WRONG! The company restructured, it’s true, but is now hiring again. And guess what? The firm has recently become profitable again. Do keep up Charles…
Now new research from eMarketer provided exclusively to the Guardian paints a bleak picture for the company. It says it may have as few as 700,000 non-business users in the UK, and that by 2017 the figure could fall to 400,000.
Well.. yes… if it continued to be the case that you can’t actually buy one from a carrier here as has been the case since spring 2014. Durrr. But carriers are now, slowly, coming back, testing the water with the Classic (although you can’t buy a Passport at most of them). 2 years is a long time in tech, just ask Samsung – the SG5 was the bees knees at carriers for most of 2014, when it was declared a failure it mysteriously disappeared from those front web store pages – almost overnight…
The UK used to be one of BlackBerry’s biggest and most loyal markets – but the collapse in consumer base will create financial problems for the company, which under its new chief executive John Chen has retrenched to its original corporate and government roots, where it is prized for its levels of security. But both Apple and Samsung have begun to make inroads there, winning approval from the US and UK governments for their handsets to be used in low-level security work.
Where they get hacked.
BlackBerry’s revenues rely heavily on handset sales: Chen has said that it needs to sell 10m per year to be profitable. But falling user numbers mean fewer sales and a spiralling problem for the company.
NO, NO, NO, NO, NO!
Dear Lord, how many times?
BlackBerry is comprised of 4 separate divisions, handsets, BBM, QNX and BES. Chen said he had to sell 10m per year WORLDWIDE (NOT JUST THE UK AS IS IMPLIED HERE) FOR THE HANDSET DIVISION TO BE VIABLE. He has also said that the Passport, for example, is already profitable. Meanwhile the other divisions are doing very nicely, thanks – a subject we shall return to.
The company has not been helped by high-profile missteps, such as a software update last Thursday that left LadyTanni Grey-Thompson, the paralympic medallist and parliamentarian, bemoaning the random shuffling of her contacts book. She has threatened to dump BlackBerry for another maker.
Erm… no she didn’t. Charles posts a Tweet from Lady Tanni Grey-Thompson where she complains of her contacts being messed up after the update. I’ve been through her Tweets since then where she is in contact with her carrier, O2 and BlackBerry. After a bit of to and fro, BlackBerry Help email her and O2 offer to try and help her in store. There is no Tweet from her threatening to ‘dump BlackBerry’. None at all. She may have been inconvenienced but there are no threats. And to say BlackBerry are full of high-profile missteps, well, seen the jokes that are iOS8 and Lollipop recently?
Fact is, there have been a couple of issues with the 10.3.1 rollout, but the internet isn’t full of people asking how the hell they can downgrade asap as with those two because none of the apps work or the mobile network has been disabled. Or, even better, their personal files have been arbitrarily deleted to make room!
Nope. None of that Charles, think you are looking in the wrong place, my friend…
Among UK smartphone users, Google’s Android makes up 56.2%, comprising 21.5 million owners, says eMarketer, while Apple’s iPhone has 12.3 million users, or 32.2%. Microsoft’s Windows Phone has 3.3 million users, or 8.5%, and BlackBerry’s sub-1 million users make up just 1.9%. Kantar puts Apple’s figure higher, at 13.4 million (38.1%) and Android’s lower, at 17.4 million (49.6%), with Windows Phone users totalling 2.3 million (6.5%).
Here’s the rub. This market share argument is actually pointless. Look at Android, let’s take the higher figure of 56.2%. Now, I know that here in the UK that slice of the pie is dominated by Samsung and HTC, with Sony having a decent chunk too.
All of whom reported HUGE losses from their phone divisions last year.
Meanwhile, silly old BlackBerry are making a profit from their measly 1.9%.
Which would you rather be?
And which one is actually viable?
Not much of a ‘bleak future’ (as Charles puts it in his preamble) there, is there?
Well, not for BlackBerry, anyway…
And what of BlackBerry’s other divisions? QNX, powering a ridiculous amount of the worlds tech, and growing? BBM coming on in leaps and bounds with monetisation growing apace? And BES now partnering with Google after pulling Samsung’s Knox back from the dead?
Then, of course, there is Project Ion. This is BlackBerry working to secure the ‘Internet of Things’, the next big growth area in tech, an area they will win in, since no one else seems capable of doing it. Project Ion is seeing people investing big money into the company as they can see what’s coming.
This is ironic, since only 16 days ago Charles posted this:
Internet of things: Connect your TV, home, even your body, to the internet. But beware hackers
In the not-too-distance future, doctors may monitor your heart over the internet. To avoid the dangers of such amazing advances, we need to start taking security more seriously
I think someone needs a BlackBerry.