Blackberry's dilemma: They target corporate customers but the mass market holds the keys to their survival
Kevin William Grant
Published on
December 31, 2020

According to Blackberry they are growing everywhere except America. Only in America Blackberry is losing subscribers because their support for advanced technologies such as LTE and phone innovations that compete with Android and iPhone have come so late. So how is Blackberry going to arrest their corporate customer losses?

According to Blacbkerry they are getting positive feedback from carriers, analysts and technologists for BB10. In the end this really isn't enough, they need mass market customers to gain market share to survive.

In an interview in India, Blackberry said they are not going after market share. There are several segments of the market, which their competitors deem important, that Blackberry does not address. For example, Blackberry is not going to be present in the budget low cost device segment. Blackberry indicated that their brand is not chasing low budget customers and the Blackberry 10 product line is not aimed at budget-conscious customers.

In other words, Blackberry is not looking to sell a high volume of devices to drive profit. They are more focused on Blackberry being an 'aspirational' product. This is their own word coming out of the mouths of Blackberry's management. According to Blackberry, the brand is associated with aspirations. They believe that if the price goes too low, they may gain volumes but will dilute the value of their products.

Blackberry management stated that Blackberry is not intended for mass-market appeal and will not be meant for everyone. Their strategy is to focus on an addressable market and this is the part of the market where they feel their brand is strong and where margins are high.

iPhone and Android are squarely targeted at the mass-market with support for corporate customers being an additional element. Google and Apple both know that going after the end-user, regardless of their corporate status, is how they will get their devices into the corporation.

Blackberry still seems to believe that they can go after a market segment and expect to gain mass-market appeal. I feel it is a strategy that is flawed. Every time Blackberry loses a corporate customer they lose a piece of their soul because their strategy hinges on corporate customers.

If they could only switch to a mass-market approach they could reorient their strategy towards aggressive growth rather than their current  sputtering cautious reacquisitions of corporate users.

Blackberry is a Canadian company that still enjoys strong appeal in regions such as the Caribbean and Latin America. The technology enterprise may just reclaim its position if it acts quickly while recognizing its mistakes.

(1) Foresight and Innovation

The trailblazer “smartphone” known in the business community as the original wireless, handheld computer-gadget with multiple communications’ channel, somehow forgot its first formula of success, that is: staying on top of cutting edge technology. Blackberry was a wildly popular innovative tool for corporate executives, but over the past couple of years it has not done much to stay ahead of a rapidly evolving technology market. Blackerry 10 was hastily put together while the competition leapfrogged Blackberry.

(2) Targeting The Wrong Customers

Blackberry designed its smartphone to target business and government customers. Since then, corporate attitudes have changed; no longer are businesses freely handing out smartphones or deciding for employees which phone they should use. The Blackberry appeal has turned from an executive perk to a mass market device, and without the technology upgrade to go along with it.

(3) “True” Consumers

After assessing Blackberry’s lackluster sales in the market, newly appointed chief executive,Thorsten Heins said: “We believe Blackberry cannot succeed if we try to be everybody’s darling and all things to all people,” he told analysts. This is an indication that Heins plans to return to corporate as its target customer. Currently consumers are switching to trendier phones from Apple and Google’s Android, using them for both business and personal purposes.

(4) Complacency

In a highly evolving market there is no room for playing a “wait and see game” nor can an enterprise afford to relax in the face of emerging trends. Horace Dediu, wireless industry analyst, says: “The violence with which new platforms have displaced incumbent mobile vendor fortunes continues to surprise.” Dismissing any player in the market as no real threat is an oversight no leading company should make.

(5) Ignoring The Warning Signs

Sales trends and forecast are ultimate predictors of a company’s competitive position in the market. Blackberry’s slow response to the warning signs meant that it had continued on its stumbling path for some time. The latest financial report shows a 25% decline in sales or $125 million in losses over the previous year.