RIM today hosted a major event in New York to launch the new BlackBerry 10 OS. RIM also announced that the company is rebranding itself as BlackBerry. A fresh new brand with a highly anticipated mobile platform should give the company reason for optimism, but BlackBerry 10 (BB10) isn't just a new iteration of the once-dominant smartphone brand--it's a sink-or-swim proposition that will determine the fate of the company itself.
BB 10 has been delayed time and time again. You can't fault a company for being dedicated to getting it right--BlackBerry deserves kudos for having the conviction to make sure BB10 is polished and delivers the experience intended, despite the fallout and negative impact of delaying the launch.
While we've waited to see what's next from BlackBerry, though, its market share has plummeted. BlackBerry has dropped from the leading smartphone platform, to battle with Microsoft's Windows Phone for a distant third place--fighting over the few table scraps left over from iOS and Android.
Restoring faith in the brand and winning back customers won't be easy. Here are three primary challenges the new BlackBerry must overcome in order to make BlackBerry formidable once again.
1. Developers The game changed. Smartphones are all about the apps. Granted, the vast majority of the umpteen thousand apps available for iOS or Android are crap. They're silly, lame, dysfunctional, and have no real redeeming value. But, there are still exponentially more business apps, social media apps, and apps that enhance smartphone productivity available for iOS and Android than there are for BlackBerry.
For example, at the Kaspersky Cyber-Security Summit 2013 event Wednesday, former White House cybersecurity coordinator Howard Schmidt said he has 500 or 600 hundred apps on his iPad, but most are frivolous distractions. Schmidt explained that the challenge for mobile devices is to answer the question, "How are we going to take all of these new technologies and figure out how to actually use them?"
BlackBerry has been offering a bounty to entice developers to create for the BlackBerry ecosystem, and that has helped to build the stable of apps. The test, though, is whether innovative new apps are developed for BlackBerry first--or how long BlackBerry users have to wait, if they get them at all. BlackBerry has to convince developers that BlackBerry is a viable market worth investing time and effort in, and that's not easy without market share.
Success begets success, and failure begets failure. The more people who have iPhones or Android smartphones, the more friends, family, and random strangers are able to see them, play with them, and experience them. The popularity of any platform or device reaches a critical mass that becomes more or less self-sustaining.
Sign up for CIO Asia eNewsletters.