Does BlackBerry Have a Fighting Chance?

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The BlackBerry (NASDAQ: BBRY) Z10 and Q10 have prompted the company to make a bit of a comeback in the smartphone market, though the company still lags far behind the Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL) iPhone, Samsung (NASDAQOTH: SSNLF) Galaxy 4S and Google (NASDAQ: GOOG) Android phones.

A league of titans

BlackBerry has a long way to go before it can regain much of the dominance it had prior to Apple and Samsung smartphone releases. In order to gain back many of the customers it lost to the tech giants, BlackBerry needs to come out with technology that people want. The Z10 received mixed reviews, but it puts the company on the playing field in the full-touch niche. The firm's inability to compete in that area is what led many investors to leave the company in the first place, and that fueled a drop in the share price from nearly $150 in 2008 to under $7 last summer. Now, shares are at more than $14 after the releases of the new devices.

BlackBerry is set to release its A10 as the company's most powerful smartphone, and it could be the second BlackBerry flagship touchscreen released this year. This will likely replace BlackBerry's top-tier Z10 and make that a mid-tier gadget. According to CNET, Sprint is interested in the A10, and that could be why the phone carrier didn't represent the Z10. If Sprint does take on the A10, and if the device is a touchscreen, market share could begin to swing back BlackBerry's way. The device could also be sold through other U.S. carriers.

But the firm faces a challenging fight against the top three carriers, Apple, Samsung and Google. And it isn't as if those companies aren't making their own efforts at increasing market share. 

What Apple is up to

On June 10, Apple added various changes to the software that powers the iPhones and iPads. This software is leagues ahead of anything BlackBerry has released, though no one outside of BlackBerry really knows what the A10 will offer. The revamp could help Apple solidify its position on top. The features improve the iOS usability, and it includes new features such as faux-wood bookshelves and simulated paper. The email, calendar and text messaging apps were also redesigned. The upgrade doesn't appear to be significant and doesn't threaten others in the smartphone industry, but it does show that Apple has the big bucks to make changes just for the sake of attracting customers and potential investors. With BlackBerry scrambling to be relevant, there is little chance of that firm tweaking its products for the fun of it.

What Samsung is up to

Samsung's Galaxy 4S has been received well by buyers, and has even competed closely with Apple's iPhone 5. Since its release on April 26, the Galaxy 4S has been popular. In fact, the device has sold more phones than Apple on all but one of the top four phone providers in the U.S. Samsung led on Verizon, T-Mobile and Sprint. The iPhone 5, however, dominated on AT&T. That shift in preference is what may have led Apple to release the updates, as the iPhone was on top with all four providers in the previous month. Samsung's quick dominance speaks for itself and with the momentum it has built, the company is likely to take charge in the months ahead.

What Google is up to

Google is also taking a piece of the pie, after it kicked BlackBerry out of the third most frequently sold smartphone device spot earlier this year. Google has performed well in the subscribers arena. In fact, comScore reported the company's Android controlled 52% of the market after this year's first three months. The research focuses on active subscribers, not market share. But if Google continues to be popular in that area, it could be no time before it makes its way into the No. 2 spot. Owning the majority of the platform division puts Google in a solid position to compete closely with Apple and Samsung. But BlackBerry could have something to say about that.

BlackBerry could sink like a rock or swim like a dolphin

In order for BlackBerry to climb back on top, it needs to release a product that the others haven't invented. Sales were strong when the company decided to join modern times and integrated a touchscreen into its device, but instead of just copying what the others are doing, BlackBerry needs to invent a gadget that will make the company relevant again.

There's no doubt that Apple is at the center of technology's largest revolution ever, and that longtime shareholders have been handsomely rewarded with over 1,000% gains. However, there is a debate raging as to whether Apple remains a buy. The Motley Fool's senior technology analyst and managing bureau chief, Eric Bleeker, is prepared to fill you in on reasons to buy and reasons to sell Apple, and what opportunities are left for the company (and your portfolio) going forward. To get instant access to his latest thinking on Apple, simply click here now.


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