Manifest Destiny – BlackBerry Ltd.
Money talks. For BlackBerry, it was always going to get worse before it got better. Despite a hoard of value, BlackBerry seems like they can’t make it pop for BlackBerry 10. BlackBerry needed to see BB10 fail in order to determine the investment strategy for the company in the future. Burning cash on hand for a product that was never truly “ready” to go when it launched in late January; it was to fiduciary advantage that they postpone that scalding. Instead, they work ahead grasping for partners to help build back equity in a badly damaged social gem. The may have seceded the battle for mobile handsets bringing their portfolio down to 4 devices for 2014, but the war for mobility has just begun.
BlackBerry Messenger going cross platform is the acceptance of the road ahead for BlackBerry–handsets alone are not their saving grace (as the Z10 and Q10 proved for them and the rest of the world). BlackBerry’s saving grace has always been the BlackBerry Network. Its servers, databases, globally established data centers coupled with ultra-high reliability and advanced encryption; a perfect tunnel for a necessary end to end mobility solution for enterprises around the world. BES10, the secure workspace, and many of the latest and greatest MDM solutions all back the BlackBerry product. BlackBerry is much more than its handsets and their lack of consumer interest. The heartbeat has always been security.
While the consumer trends toward the caprice, BlackBerry still has pockets of dedication and they are in places you wouldn’t expect. It’s who BlackBerry’s users are that is most important to their world. The solution they offer is their direction and dedication. Fight the consumer fight against giants?–Or create a culture shock by innovating in a new direction? The latter will bring the scope back in focus as BlackBerry continues plowing forward with both hardware and software.
This is not a company circling the drain; this is a company experiencing growing pain. They must continue shedding the bloat and drive a new definition of themselves–one that’s offerings are focused on a user that exists in 2013 and into the future. Heins led us last quarter to the preliminary results we received on September 20. And they’re airing the chamber so that they can load their next round. BlackBerry forges ahead–having launched their most powerful smartphone to date just five days ago, a focused launch that ignored the markets that ignored them.
The arena is changing and everyone knows it. There are more and more smartphone owners every day, and less and less laptops. The duopoly is set to break, and not in the direction it’s been growing. The driving convergence of our mobile devices as our solitary-primary computing solution will soon be upon us. Yes, there will, for the foreseeable future, be desktops and tablets but wearables, modular computing, is far from its inception. BlackBerry 10 is aimed at the future of mobile computing. I closed my last article claiming BlackBerry 10 is not late but actually early. While the competition is focused on consumer handset ecosystems and app catalogs, BlackBerry is looking to unite disparate industries through a cohesive computing platform. Apps will come but Thorsten Heins and the crew at BlackBerry believe in the uniqueness of their vision–and the solutions they can provide better than anyone else out there. I’m talking about you MobileIron, AirWatch, and Citrix.
BlackBerry can’t have every app without the user base to demand it at a scale the developers deem worth their time–and BlackBerry knows this. Making unique value and incentive for their platform is paramount as they push ahead through their transition (which is tailing the end of phase 2). With Miracast on BB10.2, a multiplatform solution rolling out for BBM, and the QNX core platform extended well into automobile telematics, BlackBerry still has some cards to play moving forward. Bringing their BB10 platform into cars will fall in line with market movements. We’ve seen Apple’s intentions for the car… and Tesla is showing off the power of Linux across 17”, yet by market share, automobile OEMs across the board employ QNX for their in-car telematics.
BlackBerry tried the consumer play. But even in the early days of RIMM, the consumer was never the focus. Today, they can exit the consumer market because QNX, their software core, makes them more vital than just another cell phone OEM. Think about it, do you need a mission critical operating system for you to send text messages and receive phone calls? BlackBerry 10 stands for so much more than just another cell phone. BlackBerry is simply singing a song they wrote years ago. The ship’s manifest has always held their direction. BBM (the service) was the primary reason any consumer bought a BlackBerry back in their heyday, but BlackBerry understands its future is software based computing solutions, with BBM extending its reach as a pinpoint to bridge these separate, soon to be equal, industries.
To have a private bid for BlackBerry take place, the stock needs to be lower. The very forward statements from management and reduced work force numbers suggest perhaps they are gearing down the market for the next phase of their survival — a buy-in, likely by interested parties. Rumors via the WSJ suggest that ex-CEO Mike Lazaridis and $BBRY bull Prem Watsa are working on bids to take the company private to stave off the market bleed. Not only that, BlackBerry 10.2, the next iteration of their software platform, and their new 5” all-touch Z30 will keep the company looking forward as they settle in for the fight of their lives. BlackBerry is slimming, sharpening and getting ready for their culture shocking blow and last-ditch attempt to reinvent the perception around what BlackBerry really means.