With a new name, platform and devices, the Canadian handset maker has created a lot of excitement not just among the die-hard BlackBerry loyalists, but also in the communications world. It is also leveraging the Indian developer community to develop feature-rich apps. Once dominant, can the iconic device maker claw its way back in a market currently polarised around inexpensive Android models and premium Apple designs?
Extraordinary times call for extraordinary measures. A saying that aptly applies to the BlackBerry handset maker, Research In Motion, which is fighting a grim battle to stay relevant in the global smartphone industry. The Canadian firm, which has seen its market share gnawed by smarter devices from Apple and Android— even among its dominant turf, corporate consumers—debuted its much-awaited BlackBerry 10 platform last week, available on two new smartphones, the BlackBerry Z10 (all-touch) and BlackBerry Q10 (touch with physical keyboard). It has adopted the iconic BlackBerry name in order to have a single cohesive global presence.
It might be somewhat early in the contest but the smartphone maker, once described by the Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper as a national ‘crown jewel’, seems to be making the right moves in a market that is already saturated with Android and iPhone users. The company’s reinvigorated marketing efforts were evidenced by the simultaneous global launch of its new platform and devices in New York, Toronto, London, Paris, Dubai, and Johannesburg.
Not only that, the company is seeking to attract a lot more applications. After all, apps are the direct touch point between the company and its users. With 1,00,000-odd apps in the BlackBerry App World, the company clearly lags behind Apple and Google, whose app offerings number a staggering 7,50,000 and 7,00,000 respectively.
Truth be told, the global smartphone industry has effectively become a duopoly as consumer demand has polarised around mass-market Android models and premium Apple designs. Statistics from consulting firm Strategy Analytics reveal the big picture. The global handset industry shipped 217 million smartphones last quarter, a 38% leap from the 157 million shipped in the prior year’s quarter. For the year, shipments hit a record 700 million, up from 490.5 million in 2011.
The two platforms (Apple and Android) captured a record 92% of worldwide smartphone shipments in the final quarter of 2012. Android took the lead with 152.1 million shipments last quarter, almost double the 80.6 million shipped in 2011’s fourth quarter. The market share for Android