Blackberry- The Good, Confusing, and Ugly

Margie is a member of The Motley Fool Blog Network -- entries represent the personal opinion of the blogger and are not formally edited.

So Research In Motion (NASDAQ: BBRY) (soon to be changing its company name and ticker symbol) unveiled the BB10 and new phone, the Z-10. Although reviews ranged from lukewarm to good, few, if any, were blown out of the water, which is probably the reaction that Blackberry needed to stage a coup of the mobile phone leader board owned by Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL) and Google (NASDAQ: GOOG)

The Good

The best thing about the new Blackberry was the fact that the company divided the phone up into business and personal, hoping to win back and keep its former strongest client base, corporations. This allows corporations to put company info and applications on a segregated part of the phone, and when an employee leaves the office this feature allows the company to wipe the phone clean with a click of a far away button.

Plus you can actually change the battery, which is rather difficult on the iPhone.

The Confusing

I heard one analyst state that the physical keyboard might be a reason that former users might defect back to Blackberry, as they are frustrated with the touch-screen typing on Apple’s iPhone; a statement which left me scratching my head.

Yes, without a doubt, there is a learning curve for touch-screen typing, but you get better at it as you go, and the suggestions and spell check make it even easier.  But for me the kicker, in my family at least, is that most text messages and email are done by dictation. The voice recognition systems are getting better and better, and Google’s Android system has the ability to learn your specific voice and tendencies. Typing on a keyboard, screen or physical, is becoming more and more passé.

And I state this from personal experience. When I first had to type out an email message on a touch screen, I hated it. Two weeks later, I wouldn’t dream of going back to a physical keyboard and giving up screen space to do so, and then when I finally starting dictating by voice, that was the nail in the coffin for the physical keyboard for me. Heck, I only use the touch screen now to correct dictation errors.

The idea that long term having a physical keyboard could attract old users back is flawed. I’m not saying there aren’t 28 in the world (no more) who might switch back because of it, but that puts them few and far between.

The Ugly

Alas, for shareholders of Blackberry the Z10 will not be available in America until March. I reported in the past that I have met many former users of Blackberry, who were already eligible for upgrades, but stuck it out to wait for the iPhone 5 to come on the market. Every day more and more people become eligible for phone upgrades, and each day those people, even ardent fans of the Blackberry, are forced to wait for their prize (the new Z-10) makes it more likely they switch to a competitor.

I know that when I traded in my phone 10 months ago it was worn down and malfunctioning. I was excited to get a phone, any new phone. The fact that both Apple and Android had newer handsets made them my only two real options.  

The fact is, the ecosystems of Android and Apple are also much stronger than Blackberry's. Once you have purchased some applications from iTunes, or don’t want to deal with setting up your music library on a new operating system, to switch takes overcoming a lot of inertia. This is why Google's dominating market share is so huge going forward, and why Apple is likely to create a cheaper, second tier of phones, to get as many people into their system as they can, buying apps, movies, and music, giving their location so they can be marketed to more effectively, etc.

Prediction

What is most likely to happen? Blackberry might survive for a little while, the expanding pie of the worldwide market keeping them afloat, but I highly doubt the company will thrive as it once did. They have a valuable brand name, and some enviable technology, which means the company might be sold off piece by piece, or purchased outright by someone. 

If you have a useful , thoughtful comment, feel free to input it below.  


margiecfl has positions in Apple and Google. The Motley Fool recommends Apple and Google. The Motley Fool owns shares of Apple and Google. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy. Is this post wrong? Click here. Think you can do better? Join us and write your own!

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