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The return of BlackBerry

February 7th, 2013

If you were to poll students at John Carroll about which smartphones they own, it would largely be dominated by iPhones, Droids and Samsung products. Just a few years ago, BlackBerry dominated the smartphone game, and after being dominated in the marketshare for smartphones, has returned with a product that just might challenge the current top dogs of the phone industry.

BlackBerry (RIM) announced its new touch screen phone, also available with traditional keyboard, known as the Z10. According to Bloomberg, it will not be available for purchase in the U.S. until March. It has been described as similar to the iPhone 5, also a relatively new device, but slightly heavier, wider, thicker and taller, as Bloomberg described.

The new BlackBerry 10 operating system is expected to be a strongpoint, as its previous systems were in the past. Its battery life is supposed to actually last an entire day, which most smartphone users can appreciate. BlackBerry seems to be most popular and still in use by people in the business world, even though other smartphones have overtaken BlackBerry in recent years as the phone of choice.

It will be interesting to see how this return to the marketplace fares for the company. I’m afraid it may be too late to carve out a significant area of market share in the smartphone industry. The company recently switched their official title to BlackBerry from Research in Motion in a move that has attempted to create a new era for the company.

It will find it difficult to compete with the “hip” phones and apps of Apple and Samsung. The Z10 could cost as much as $199 when finally released, and besides those loyal to the BlackBerry brand, the company may have a hard time marketing their product to other smartphone users. At the end of 2012, Bloomberg reported a marketshare for Blackberry of 4.7 percent, almost hopelessly behind Apple and the other players in the market.

The company also saw losses in three out of the last four quarters, while also having trouble with stock performance. I think that competition is beneficial for business. For consumers, it is a good sign that BlackBerry is staging a comeback and is confronting its competitors, Apple and Samsung, with a head-on approach.

It could force each company to react to the new product and make their own even better. The market-share of the Z10 and other BlackBerry products will not become what it once was, but it definitely can find growth with the right management practices. BlackBerry is in danger of becoming archaic. The company must realize this and the need to carve out more of the market share that it has not seen in years.

What was once seen as a company with elite smartphones has become an afterthought by the everyday consumer looking for the phone they will have for the next couple years.

The Z10 and any other device released by BlackBerry must be able to capture its market. It also must create products that are sustainable. Investors will not be patient with the company if it begins to tank when the new phone is released.

This spring, we will have more answers relating to the smartphone company, and for the sake of BlackBerry let’s hope consumers remember the Z10 when it is released in March. 

Information from Bloomberg was used in this column.