After mulling over almost four years and series of acquisition, pioneer of smartphones “The” BlackBerry, has launched much awaited BlackBerry-Z10 mobile phone(image). This is the first path breaking mobile phone from BlackBerry after 2009 when Co-CEOs(Mike Lazaridis & Jim Balsillie) saw future smartphones but chose to ignore same. After that much has changed. Co-CEOs have left BlackBerry and replaced by soft spoken and tough choice maker Thorstein Heins, Blackberry changed its positioning from Business phones to phone for every one (Remember “We are the Blackberry Boys” ad!), the company went to internal restructuring and to add to this, now its core OS has also been changed.
Pioneer and long time leader of smartphone market, Now, BlackBerry has just 4.7% market share and it is not in even top 5 smartphone manufacturers. Company has seen great decline in market share as well as revenue in its main market US but its presence in developing geographies with affordable phone and great brand name has kept it alive.
Research In Motion, solution provider for for seamless time sensitive information, parent company of Blackberry introduced brand as a “Wireless solution platform and handheld communication device”. The first BB device was introduced in 1999 was two way pager. In 2003, company introduced first ever smart phone which support email, text message, mobile phone , web browsing and its unique push messaging service and QWERTY key-pad.
BlackBerry earned advantage of being a first mover in the market.The phone was very appealing to corporate so, BlackBerry positioned itself as a Business Executive Phone. The design, service, colors and features all supported the positioning. This positioning helped BB to create its niche in mobile phone market. It created whole new category of business smartphones and became brand of business corporate. Corporates started using BB and to maintain security of important data they forced they employees to use BB as well.
Soon, many players, Apple, Samsung & Nokia, started entering the market with advanced technology and BlackBerry started feeling the heat. By this time it had already forayed into different geography segments but due to its high prices it could not replicate its success of US/UK in other countries.
This led BB to move into “lifestyle segment” and change its positioning. [Violating Law of Expansion, Law of Line Extension and Law of Company]. For this exercise, BlackBerry introduced “Pearl” & “Storm” which were lower priced smartphones. This indeed helped BB to gain some market share in emerging market as BlackBerry brand was very strong in consumer mind.
But changing market waits for none. Byl 2009 Apple and Samsung has launched series of smartphones with better quality and technological enhancement. While BB was pursuing the dream of becoming Lifestyle brand it diluted its core identity of Business Executive phone. BB did manage to keep it revenue and increase overall customer base(19mn), it lost its brand identity. It was neither Cool, Technologically Advanced, Fashionable nor Corporate phone anymore. The brand also suffered due to management issues, product delays, service failure-not delivering what is promised. And this is reflected in Interbrand annual brand report which showed that BB lost 39% brand value and moved to 93rd position from 56th.