Life Left in BlackBerry?

Today BlackBerry has seen two news stories, one good and one bad. First the positive: Germany is rumoured to be becoming the latest high profile client for the new BlackBerry Z10 after the substantial security features of the new SecuSuite convinced them it was the best option on the market for maintaining state secrecy. Angela Merkel, the German chancellor (equivalent to the British Prime Minister) will be among those who use the smartphone according to reports. Traditionally BlackBerry was viewed as the most secure phone manufacturer but others such as Apple and Samsung have been implemented advanced security features in recent years to win over business and government contracts, at the same time as some Blackberry networks have been found to be below the high standards they had set themselves. Reports suggest that the Germans will order 5000 Z10s, along with 5000 Samsung devices. Previous the German security services had not allowed those with security clearance to use the BlackBerry because it’s data was stored in the United Kingdom, potentially allowing British security services access to German secret information. The new Blackberry system is decentralised therefore making it harder to intercept at a physical location.

The bad news for Blackberry today is that despite the recent impressive German contract, sales of the Z10 appear to be relatively low. A analyst for Canaccord Genuity suggested that his shareholding clients refrain from purchasing Blackberry shares due to low sales of the Z10 and because Samsung’s security features on its latest smartphones are stealing custom from businesses and governments which would have previously have relied on Blackberry. The number they place on sales is in the 800,000 range, which is revised upwards from estimates of 300,000 in the previous quarter.

Indeed Blackberry might struggle in markets like the USA which will get the latest Blackberry 10 smartphones in the next few weeks. Pricing will put the phones at the same level as top of the range iPhones and Samsung models, meaning they will likely to be unattractive to consumers who had previously opted for Blackberry as a cheaper alternative to high end smartphones. It looks like Blackberry will increasingly rely on attracting big government and business contracts on the basis of its security suite in order to compete, the problem is more IT departments are adopting ‘bring your own phone’ models as more smartphone security become compatible across platforms.

Just a few months ago it seemed almost certain that BlackBerry wasn’t going to survive the decade as an independent phone manufacturer of any importance, yet a series of news stories over the last few months seem to have pointed to a brighter future for the Canadian phone maker who pioneered many of the features we take for granted in smartphones today. Indeed even the stocks of BlackBerry have picked up in recent months while other smartphone companies such as Apple have plummeted. The question is if the news stories are simply a last stand of a ageing performer or sign of more permanent comeback.

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Life Left in BlackBerry?


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