In typical Apple fashion, the iPhone came from a mixture of Steve Jobs’ hubris and a collection of non-cell phone engineers who solved the smartphone’s real problems with a giant screen and a very large battery. Yes, the iPhone killed BlackBerry, Nokia, and Motorola, and altered the entire industry. How can beleaguered BlackBerry get back in the game?
The Hardware Keyboard Market
Every product market can be sliced and diced a variety of ways. With smartphones, it’s easy to see that the premium brands– Apple and Samsung– make all the money.
Half of the Android smartphone world isn’t even Google compatible and it’s filled with half-baked plastic no-name feature phones which run rogue versions of Android OS.
Where can BlackBerry find a profitable niche from which to launch a comeback toward mere survival (the prosperity of years past is gone; probably forever)?
Keyboards. Hardware keyboards. You know, those hardware keyboards that both iPhone and Android smartphones mostly killed off in a few short years.
Newly minted CEO John Chen says the company is kicking around a few ideas for next generation handsets (cell phone manufacturer talk for smartphones) with hardware keyboards.
What’s Old Is New Again
In other news, the Brooklyn Buggy Whip Company announced plans to create digitally controlled buggy whips in an effort to stimulate the company’s moribund presence in the nascent horseless carriage industry.
Chen seems to think that the smartphone hardware keyboard market is being underserved by Apple and Samsung, and that onscreen keyboards are merely a fad, and smartphone customers are sure to flock back to BlackBerry after realizing the error of their ways.
There’s also BlackBerry’s little know investment in the unicorn farms of Ontario.
BlackBerry continues to bleed money faster than Fox News avoids fact checking, but Chen might be on to something. BlackBerry’s core base is business and government, both of which need a level of messaging and data security that often goes beyond Apple’s iPhone (Android is the least secure smartphone platform).
Is that potentially a profitable niche for BlackBerry? Sure, but ditching the hardware might make the company’s software more available on more platforms and to more eyeballs.