By Eustace Dunn
Some time ago, I used to slug it out with friends who happened to have been using blackberry (BB) since its debut. Little did I know that someday, BB would end up introducing its messenger to other Smartphones. I once spoke against BlackBerry phones perhaps because of the rush for it especially in Nigeria. Most people will categorically tell you that they detest it with passion. Even blackberry owners have now realized this dislike for the phone owing to the fact that they are gradually fizzling out of Smartphone market even though Andrew Bocking, BlackBerry’s BBM business head claims there is an unprecedented demand for it. Even Indonesia, Blackberry largest market at a point began to switch to Samsung which led to Blackberry’s sales decreasing by over 70%.
The ailing smartphone maker is indeed losing its shine in the one market it could count on and from its plans, wants to gain certain percentage back from the market share with the official launch of this new app few days ago. To me, this could be bad timing for the company as BB users may end up dumping their blackberry phones since these other phones now do what blackberry can or even more than, especially on the aspect of its life span.
Thanks to the likes of WhatsApp that relentlessly made sure that BBM was somewhat displaced. I believe it was the threat that Whatsapp posed (as BB users started using Whatsapp in order not to limit their communication and to be able to reach out to non-blackberry users like java and Symbian phone users) that triggered blackberry to come up with its BBM for androids and iPhones having understood their loss, BlackBerry decided to come back with a bang by introducing BBM for Android, Apple and some of Windows phones.
My take is that BB usage will drastically drop owing to some factors which bedeviled its patronage in recent times. For instance, in a country like Nigeria where there is epileptic power supply, with the BB poor battery quality, most users had to device contingency plan by getting Nokia torchlight phones.
So what’s next for BlackBerry, having introduced this new BBM platform? Would it be able to use its 60 million user base to compete against WhatsApp’s over 300 million user base? I wonder if Blackberry Company will continue the production of its phones with over 10 million downloads already from android and iphone users. It is obvious that BB users will eventually drop the phone for androids. To me, it is not just coming out with a bang and then later banging out; it is whether BlackBerry will be able to hold its old, new and potential users of the new BBM for android and iphone. How they would go about this is another bone of contention. If only they could carry out aggressive marketing, always coming up with new features and updates of the app and BB channels and then, in line with this, continue to carry every user along.
Just as WhatsApp keeps updating its app to be user friendly and highly interactive, android and iphone users of the new BBM app are thirsting for it to upgrade to video and voice support for iOS and android. If this becomes possible, then I guess BlackBerry may begin to want to measure heights with WhatsApp and others. But my fear for BlackBerry is the loss of phone patronage and the monetary involvement in the new app.