Time is ripe
Are BlackBerry’s best days gone and forgotten? Jennifer Dudley- Nicholson reports
AUSTRALIANS desperate to get their fingers tapping on a new BlackBerry phone will have to twiddle their thumbs for a few months more.
Telstra and Optus will stock the BlackBerry Z10 touchscreen phone, but not until next month at the earliest, and prices have not yet been released.
The news for BlackBerry diehards wanting a Q10 with a physical QWERTY keyboard is bleaker, with no Australian telco due to stock the smartphone.
That is despite some international markets, including Canada, the UK and the United Arab Emirates, putting the phones on sale almost immediately following the New York launch late last month of the two phones and the BlackBerry 10 operating system.
BlackBerry also announced details of a new app store with 70,000 apps, a new company name with Research in Motion rebranding itself as BlackBerry, and a new face to appeal to the elusive younger generation with singer Alicia Keys named BlackBerry global creative director.
After years of losing market share to Apple and Android, those at BlackBerry know this is the best chance to stop the slide into oblivion.
In 2010, Gartner figures show that Research in Motion sold 49.7 million phones, giving it a small lead over Apple, which sold 46.7 million. By 2012, those positions had dramatically shifted, with RIM’s 31 million phone sales a long way behind Apple’s 180.3 million.
Despite the optimism at BlackBerry’s New York launch, Gartner does not predict a turnaround of fortunes. It predicts by 2016, Apple will be selling 266.3 million phones against 23.3 million for the rebranded BlackBerry.
Forrester Research principal analyst Charles Golvin says half of US BlackBerry owners plan to get a new phone in the next year but fewer than two in five will buy another BlackBerry.
Other analysts are likewise as lukewarm on the prospects of a BlackBerry bounceback. IDC market analyst Aman Bajaj says BlackBerry’s future depends on its ambitions. ‘‘ They have to be realistic,’’ he says. ‘‘ They’re not going to come in and take over the market and take the No. 1 position in the total smartphone market. That’s not going to happen.
‘‘ At least they’ve done the right thing in launching devices that have got favourable reviews. But now whether that really translates into convincing people to take the leap is yet to be seen.’’
Adam Leach, principal analyst at Ovum, praises the phones as being good enough to stand out from the crowd of Apples and Androids, but says that would not be enough to spark a big BlackBerry comeback.
Leach says BlackBerry will struggle to appeal to an audience wider than the phone’s loyal users and ‘‘ in the long term will become a niche player in the smartphone market’’.
BEST CHANCE: BlackBerry CEO Thorsten Heins with the BlackBerry Z10 and Q10 smartphones at the New York launch.