BlackBerry had what can only be called a difficult third quarter of 2013, according to new data from research firm Kantar Worldpanel. That company’s latest research found that BlackBerry claimed just 0.8 percent of smartphone operating system sales in the quarter, down from its 1.6 percent share in the same period in 2012.
This was also far off the pace of Android and iOS, which nabbed 52.6 percent and 40.8 percent of the U.S. market, respectively. It was a similar story in China and Spain, where BlackBerry now has zero market share.
The findings were nothing short of astounding. It wasn’t long ago, after all, that BlackBerry was one of the hottest companies in the mobile space. But now, the company has been overwhelmed by late-coming competitors.
Although some industry observers say BlackBerry still has the technology to mount some kind of market recovery, the company is admittedly facing an uphill battle. From fierce competition to consumer perception that the company is a has-been, BlackBerry has to solve a lot of problems.
Unfortunately, the company has limited time to solve these problems.
Here are the reasons why it’s going to be very difficult for BlackBerry to reverse its market slide.
BlackBerry’s Struggle for Survival: 10 Huge Problems It Must Solve
by Don Reisinger
Consumers Have Turned Their Backs on BlackBerry
Consumers don’t seem all that worried about the idea of the mobile space becoming a three-horse race.
As noted, BlackBerry lost half of its share of the U.S. smartphone market in the third quarter. BlackBerry needs to find a way to make customers care.
If it fails, it’ll turn out like Blockbuster, CompUSA and so many other companies that just faded from the market.
The Enterprise Is Going Elsewhere
Although the corporate world still invests in BlackBerry devices, even enterprises have backed away from the BlackBerry technology it once supported so strongly.
According to research firm IDC, BlackBerry’s market share among business customers stands at just 5 percent. Just three years ago, that figure was hovering at nearly 70 percent. Worldwide, BlackBerry’s enterprise share is just 8 percent, according to IDC. BlackBerry must win back enterprises customers or lose its last best chance for recovery.
It’s Yet to Fully Monetize the Growth Areas
It might surprise some, but BlackBerry indeed has some important potential growth areas in its business.
The company’s BlackBerry Messenger still has enough users to make it a credible alternative to free messaging apps like WhatsApp and iMessage. BlackBerry’s enterprise services are still important, and the company has a network business that could sustain BlackBerry in the coming years.
There’s just one issue: BlackBerry has focused too little on growing those businesses.
If it doesn’t find a way to do that, the company has little else to fall back on.
There’s a Leadership Issue
BlackBerry’s interim CEO John Chen is one of the more well-respected executives in the enterprise game. But since replacing Thorsten Heins, Chen has allowed the C-suite’s revolving door to swing wildly. In addition to pushing Heins aside, Chen has cleaned house, firing COO Kristian Tear and CMO Frank Boulben.
He said in a press release announcing the move that more changes might be coming. However, at some point Chen needs to find a management team that can come up with a recovery plan that raises the confidence of employees and potential customers.
BlackBerry Must Find a Way to Reverse Investor Flight
BlackBerry has to show that it is at least on a path back to growth to stop the steady decline of the company’s value.
The price of BlackBerry shares has declined by 45 percent over the past year.
The company has to find a business plan that will at least help the stock find the floor. Without such a plan, BlackBerry may just end up in liquidation.
Enterprise Reassurance Can’t Work Overnight
Chen made headlines on Dec. 2 after issuing an open letter to the company’s customers saying that BlackBerry is alive and well and will be around for some time. But as the corporate world has shown over the years, promises aren’t enough to get CIOs to invest in a company’s technology. Enterprises are extremely reluctant to keep buying products from a company that might go under in a year or two. Chen and his team need to prove to the enterprise that they can turn things around.
What Market Does BlackBerry Want?
One of the main issues with BlackBerry’s performance this year has been its seeming inability to determine which market it really wants to attract. BlackBerry is an enterprise product maker, many believe, but its first BlackBerry 10 handset was an all-touch-screen device designed for consumers. BlackBerry also shifted its ad spending toward consumers. BlackBerry needs to figure out which market it cares about and go after it.
Finding a Permanent CEO Prepared to Make Tough Decisions
As noted, Chen is just an interim CEO, which means BlackBerry is currently searching for a permanent replacement.
Assuming that permanent replacement won’t be Chen, BlackBerry needs to find someone who can look at the company objectively and be willing to ax divisions and services that just don’t work.
If that means shuttering the smartphone operation, so be it.
The big question now, though, is whether BlackBerry will be able to find someone with enough guts to make such a move.
How Does It ‘Unlock Value’?
Sometimes, a dispassionate view at a company’s product line reveals something rather staggering: Struggling companies might find their footing after spinning off weakly performing business lines and focusing on core operations that are actually doing well. BlackBerry has stubbornly stuck to businesses that appear to be bringing it down. Perhaps it’s time for BlackBerry to take aim at Wall Street’s strategy of “unlocking value” as a way to restore the company’s fortunes.
BlackBerry Needs to Have a Role in BYOD Management
Like it or not, BlackBerry needs to find a way to help enterprise customers manage the bring-your-own-device (BYOD) trend.
This approach might help BlackBerry slow and even reverse its slide in the enterprise marketif it can provide effective tools to enable many different devices to access corporate networks and data.