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Is BlackBerry fighting a lost battle?

23-September-2013
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Is BlackBerry fighting a lost battle?

BlackBerry unveiled its BBM messenger services for iOS and Android platforms in an attempt to recapture the slipping market position globally. The application is expected to stir up the lost BlackBerry fervor by grabbing a share in the mobile messenger pie. The mobile company began to lose out on its consumer due to strong competition from Android and iOS in the touch screen market, where BlackBerry failed to leave a mark.
 
Black clouds looming over BlackBerry 
The once mobile giant has not been in one of its rosiest periods from the last few years. After losing out considerably to Android and iPhone, BlackBerry made a desperate comeback attempt with the launch of its Z30 smart phone. It also tried to shake up the Asia market with BlackBerry 9720, which did not run on BB10 OS but on its older version – BB 7.1. Nonetheless, both its attempts received more or less a lukewarm reaction in the markets.

The Wall Street Journal reported that BlackBerry plans to reduce its headcount by 40 per cent. Reportedly, the mobile maker wrote of an inventory of USD one billion unsold touch screen phones which have proven to be one of the biggest liabilities at this point.

Followed by the news, BlackBerry shares witnessed a 17 per cent dip to close at USD 8.72 on Friday.

Can BlackBerry Messenger revive its lost position?
According to statistics, share of BlackBerry in the Indian mobile market fell from 12.3 per cent in 2012 to 1.2 per cent. The lead was retained by Korean handset manufacturer Samsung with 32.7 per cent share in the mobile market. Following Samsung is Micromax with 19 per cent and Karbonn Mobiles with 11 per cent.

Thus, even if BlackBerry Messenger picks up on Android and iOS platforms, it is very unlikely to translate into success for BlackBerry mobile handsets. Even if one tries to look at it from a brand recall point of view, it is necessary that the messenger picks up in the jam packed chat messenger market.

Currently mobile chat messenger industry is dominated by WhatApp, which boasts of almost 250 million active users. Followed by WhatsApp is China based WeChat, which has almost 195 million active users. The rest of the economy constitutes of applications such as Line, Hike, Nimbuzz and Viber, not to mention age old messenger services for computers (which can be easily downloaded on smartphones now) including Yahoo Messenger and Skype.

In such a cluttered space, BBM is not expected to create miracles that BlackBerry has been expecting for quite some time now. BBM will offer services such as chatting, data sharing, group chats and social elements such as status updates and profile pictures – festures that are available on every mobile chat messenger.

A major flaw that one could point out in BlackBerry’s revival strategy is that it is not banking on what was once its major strength – emails. BlackBerry models were known for their convenient email services, which was somewhere lost in their touch screen models. If the mobile manufacturer manages to leverage this element, it could bank on certain revival.
  
Amidst all the frenzy in the mobile handset economy, BlackBerry is not only looking at revival of its market position, but also struggling for survival as an independent handset manufacturer. After the fate of Motorola Mobility and Nokia, one can only hope that BlackBerry takes the right steps at the right time.
 

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