Can The Blackberry Survive The Smartphone Wars?

With the popularity of new Smartphones like the iPhone and Android, industry experts wonder whether the Blackberry can successfully withstand the competition. We turned to our panel of electronics experts and here’s what they had to say:

Robin Jewsbury, founder of Alibro and head of T-Mobile’s International Innovation Group, states that the Blackberry is indeed in trouble. Jewsbury compares the Blackberry’s situation to that of Nokia. Nokia originally planned on replacing its outmoded Smartphone OS Symbian with the Meego, but realized that it would be impossible to catch up with competitors. As a result, Nokia was forced to take on “an even bigger bet with Microsoft.” Blackberry is currently in a similar situation because its main OS is outmoded and in need of replacement. Although the Blackberry has tried to replace the upper layers with OS6, the company is still struggling. Jewsbury explains that even though the Blackberry’s new tablet is a great idea, tablets are still a niche product and “iPad is winning business and consumer hearts.” In the prosumer market the Blackberry has historically performed well, but this market segment is taking a hit from Android phones, which have more uses. In addition, while BBM has proved very successful, Jewsbury believes this pattern will not continue. With rumors of lower priced iPhones couples with the array of Android phones on the market, Blackberry is going to encounter major difficulties. Unless Blackberry’s QNX OS can be modified to run Android apps, Blackberry will face a “burning platform moment in less than a year.”

JTurner, a retail sales expert who has consulted Sony on the development and successful launch of their first Smartphone in the US, says that although the Blackberry has implemented a plan to compete with the latest technologies – like with the new Blackberry Torch and OS – their efforts have “fallen short of expectations of customers and carriers alike.” While JTurner believes user experience have improved over the years, the Blackberry still doesn’t successfully compete with the first generation iPhone in terms of usability. If Blackberry hopes to realistically see a market share increase, the company must first “improve their customer experience and make the devices easier to use.” Marc Antonio, an expert with more than a decade of experience consulting on challenging projects around the world, feels that the competition from the iPhone and other Smartphones can actually prove to be beneficial to the Blackberry. Although the Blackberry is a quality product, it has become “stagnant due to lack of serious competition and innovation.” Antonio advises that Blackberry needs to both reposition its brand and recognize that they have a large and very loyal consumer base. Rather than making an “iPhone-killer,” Blackberry should continue “refining their units” and leveraging their massive foothold on the enterprise market.

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