John Chen spoke with Forbes last month about the turnaround he’s attempting with BlackBerry. While the interview pretty much rehashes everything we already know about the direction BlackBerry is now heading in, it’s definitely interesting to read again who BlackBerry’s target market is for the time being: the business user, not the average consumer, and why that is.
Chen was asked if a small player can survive in the smartphone market with the likes of Android and Apple dominating it. He compared BlackBerry’s niche potential to the likes of what Porsche and Lamborghini have been able to achieve; a bit of a stretch, but fair point.
Then he added, “In the short term there are enough users of serious computing–meaning this is what they do for their living, this is how they operate–that want a keyboard. You have CEOs of major companies who whip out their BlackBerrys because of the keyboard. They don’t care about apps. And, by the way, from a security point of view I’m starting to worry about where these apps are actually coming from.”
True, CEOs of Fortune 500 companies and other billionaires like that don’t usually care about apps, but how many people like that could there be? Well, good thing Forbes reporter Rich Karlgaard followed up with that exact question:
“How many potential customers fit that profile–wanting a keyboard but not wanting apps?
There’s a huge market segment out there for any regulated industry. Governments, financial services, health care. I think we can go capture those and become a winner. I have two companies in Europe now that have reversed their policies on letting people bring their own devices to work. It presents too much of a security risk. After Angela Merkel was hacked she moved straight to a BlackBerry.”
Enterprise and business users alike don’t need Instagram or Netflix officially on their device. They don’t need Google Maps, or Spotify either, they probably have iPads that can do all of that. Unfortunately, there are still a lot of BlackBerry lovers out there that have nothing to do with the business or government sector, that do want a device with those apps. The newest 10.2.1 update has helped address that, but I can’t help feeling like a big chunk of users are being excluded, and made to feel like we’re not the target audience BlackBerry is going for anymore.
The flipside is that we know that’s what BlackBerry has to do to survive. Focus on Enterprise, take a hold of that market, and then see if you can make a run at the consumer again one day down the line.
Do these comments from Chen make you feel excluded at all? Sound off in the comments.