“The company plans to end all internal hardware development and will outsource that function to partners,”
-CEO Blackberry, John Chen
So apparently Blackberry finally gave up. After years of trying to make their phone relevant again, the party has thrown in the towel. Its last forte was with Android OS, which they installed on their phones to make them more interesting and appealing to an already established consumer base. But just like how we all forgot about Blackberry Messenger after it was released as a stand alone app, and switched to the greener pastures of the WhatsApp and Facebook messenger, we’ve also stopped caring about the Blackberry. Also, the Blackberry Playbook wasn’t really a hit with consumers, capable and stylish though it was.
Blackberry’s last ditch effort to embrace the Android OS last year didn’t make a difference in its descent in to anonymity in the smartphone world. Its share went from one fifth of the smartphone market in 2009 to less than 1% in 2015. In 2013 there were 85 million Blackberry subscribers but in March 2016, there were only 23 million. Last year Blackberry was making a profit of $51 million but it lost over $300 million this year and its shares are now selling for 71 cents a share. The company has been levelling out and dropping in value since its peak in 2007, with a few spikes in business in the subsequent years. Ever since 2012 though, there are been a steady pattern of decline. Although Blackberry hasn’t commented on laying off workers, there’s sure to be some downsizing at the company which just shutdown an entire division that was the main contributor to its revenue.
The Blackberry was once the elite phone. Its ubiquity in the pockets of white collar workers and the offspring of well to do people was evident as they all stared in to their screens typing away on BBM. But that trend rapidly changed with the released of the iPhone and the flood of Android devices.
The company’s new direction will be in software but there was an interesting piece of news from CEO John Chen that hinted at this not being the last hurrah of the QWERTY Keyboard. While answering questions standing next to the company’s timeline of phones he commented that the gap at the end is not going to be empty forever. He said the company has “some good plans” to introduce one or two more phones to fill up the timeline till 2018.