BlackBerry today confirmed that it will soon be releasing an Android-based smartphone. The comment below may be attributed to Jan Dawson, Chief Analyst, Jackdaw Research. Jan may also be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 408 744 6244.
BlackBerry has been steadily inching its way towards an acceptable number of apps in its app store, which continues to be one of the main things holding it back in competing with the two major platforms. First they tried to build up their own app store, then they partnered with Amazon, and now they’re finally bowing to the inevitable and embracing Android. This will certainly help to solve that particular problem, but being an Android OEM is a pretty uncomfortable place to be right now. Competition is intensifying, the biggest players are struggling, and small lower-priced vendors are taking increasing share. The big question is whether BlackBerry can really turn handsets around at this point, or whether it’s simply too late for the brand, which has been tarnished by all that has happened over the last few years. My sense is that many users have moved on at this point, and that even if enterprises like the BlackBerry platform, employees won’t. The reality is that there are still some industries where BlackBerry devices are the only option, and therefore I think it’s likely that BlackBerry will continue to make devices for some time to come, but the question is whether that can ever be a profitable business for them again.
Meanwhile, BlackBerry’s other results continue to be disappointing, and the software turnaround is taking longer than expected, which helps to explain the Good Technology acquisition. While that acquisition should finally give BlackBerry the credibility it needs in the multi-platform device management business, it’s worrying that its own efforts have fared so poorly. Other than cost cutting, which was largely undertaken by John Chen’s predecessor, BlackBerry seems to be making very limited progress on its major goals.