Q3 2014 was not kind to BlackBerry, once again. The company expected a drop in quarter 3, but a larger than projected drop has stock prices falling and management searching for answers. Worse, the missed sales projections included a month in which the BlackBerry Passport, the company’s latest moon shot to regain market control, was released.
Part of the issue comes from an outdated model that doesn’t fly in the current smartphone marketplace. For some time now, BlackBerry has brought in funds by charging fees for things like system access and other services mostly considered “basic.” However, that model simply doesn’t work in the current marketplace. Newer BlackBerry models don’t come with that built-in revenue source, so the company has to make up that lost income somewhere. They’re trying to do that in hardware sales.
And while losing the system fees and other outdated surcharges will help BlackBerry drop the “so yesterday” stigma in the current consumer marketplace, it may be too little too late. In a head to head contest with top smartphone brands, BlackBerry barely registers. iPhone is the clear leader, with Android phones standing strong at number two. Everyone else is an also-ran.
That’s a tough position for BlackBerry, once the undisputed leader of the smartphone revolution. Unfortunately for the brand, it now stands as a modern day object lesson in what happens when your brand fails to keep up with market trends. Not too long ago the BlackBerry was a legitimate status symbol. Now it’s widely seen as an industry dinosaur. Unfair? Probably. The phone still has a tremendous up side. But the company has largely failed to compete. Mainly because it ignored and then misjudged the changing marketplace.
The only way back for BlackBerry is a new form of PR. They need to change in a big way. Clinging to past glory and refusing to try anything new might slow their decline, but they are already living on borrowed time. The brand must do more than rebound. They must re-energize and re-attract consumers in order to make a real play for market relevance.