Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Sent from my Blackberry - Please buy me :(

How is this for an advertising slogan for Blackberry: Sent from my Blackberry; DO NOT excuse typos.

We are all used to this ubiquitous line at the end of emails when people respond using their smartphones (Sent from my smartphone, please excuse typos). I thought this was a perfect line for Blackberry when it tried to make a come back recently. As someone said, customers don't buy the product, they buy a story. So, this line might have been a good one!

I started this post as a come back for my blog after almost a year of absence. I had started drafting this before the news of Blackberry being on sale came out. The news says that Blackberry is considering strategic options, including sale. I was already half way through some options that I was writing here. So, let's see if any of these gets materialized in the near future!

What could have Blackberry done? It is now trying to become a completely private company so that it can do some changes, like Dell, away from the public scrutiny. Now, there are a host of things that the company can do. Here are some based on my reading of the mobile market.

Blackberry - The Super Android
It is becoming increasingly clearer that the devices are a gateway to the stores which house applications and content for users to consume. Now, Blackberry has some pretty neat devices, especially with the latest OS and design, but they lack an application store that can match what iPhone, Android and even Windows Phone have. So, one thing they could do, and I believe this was being talked about earlier as well, is to tie up with Android and basically have BB users use applications from Android. But in this case, as I mentioned in an earlier post, why would users buy BB and not some Samsung Android phones? That is where BB would need to create a differentiation with the fact that it has more secure email and then add some other bells and whistles to the product to make it a Super Android. A Super Android that would communicate the same sort of air that a Blackberry used to before the iPhones.

Another option could be to tie up with Windows given that they have the image of a business phone, they could work out a deal with Microsoft to create some applications that help the business user effectively manage the documents, most of which are in MS software. Also, given that a lot of people access their emails between meetings (on the go), and a lot of these people just need to provide comments on the documents, it would make sense to create an application that helps users review the document and embed comments to send the document back - all via the Blackberry. I am not sure if there are existing apps that are good at this but it seems to be something I would like on my phone.

The obvious issue with tying up with Microsoft is that its own app store is not something that is a super hit (yet), so if they tie up with Microsoft, we will all have the same question we had when Nokia went for Windows Phone - "why didn't they go for Android".

Having said that, the apps for documents and stuff that business users have to do on their phones can still be done on Android, so that really seems to be the best bet for Blackberry. I had mentioned in my earlier post that Blackberry could work out a way to provide its secure email technology to other smart phones. A BB email app that connects to its servers and keeps the smart phone users happy that their emails are secure. I am sure a lot of corporates would love to have that. This option, of course, changes the company from an integrated handset maker to probably just an app development company. But I believe they could very well take both options and over time if they do a good job with their Super Androids, people would probably want to buy their handsets rather than use their app on other phones.

A friend of mine asked "Who would buy Blackberry" on his facebook wall; the options above suggest that Motorola (a Google company) may be a good suitor to create the Super Android phones. What say?

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