Alicia Keys Can’t Save BlackBerry

Despite strong reviews for the BlackBerry 10 OS and enterprises support tools, the newly branded BlackBerry Corp. continues to slide. The reason: continued market share erosion and a chaotic rollout of new devices. Can the channel save BlackBerry?

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Alicia Keys may be a girl on fire in the music world, but the soulful siren isn’t having much of an impact in her new role as “global creative director” of newly rebranded BlackBerry. The company continues to see market share erosion and sliding valuation despite the strong reviews for its new operating systems and smartphone products.

Formerly known as Research in Motion, BlackBerry lost 3 percent of its market value since the beginning of the week following the defection of Home Depot to Apple Inc., which is replacing legacy BlackBerry devices with iPhones.

The Blackberry 10 operating system, two new smartphones -- the Z10 and Q10 -- and its enterprise management tools are getting strong reviews from analysts, press and solution providers. However, BlackBerry has chosen a staggered rollout strategy, and the new products won’t reach the U.S. market until the end of March. Some speculate the company is having supply chain and logistical problems.

The new products and corporate identity were thought to be BlackBerry’s best chances to revive its fortunes after years of seeing its mobility dominance utterly defeated by rivals Apple and Samsung Electronics Co. Over the last two years, BlackBerry has changed management, downsized its workforce and refocused products to match and, in some cases, exceed rival offerings.

What some BlackBerry supporters fear is this effort is too much too late. While BlackBerry 10, as an enterprise offering, is said to be better than competitive smartphone offerings, the momentum and share of voice belongs to Apple, Samsung and other Android-powered devices. The popularity and huge head start Apple and Samsung have over BlackBerry may prove too much to overcome.

Home Depot is hardly the first defector. Several U.S. government agents, including the Department of Defense, are experimenting with iPhones to meet user demands for functionality and cost cutting. Apple making inroads into the federal market is an invasion of BlackBerry’s last bastion of dominance.

Where the company may have an advantage is familiarity with IT departments and the ability to give solution providers management tools. BlackBerry products, with their client-server architecture, are easier to provision, secure and support than competitive offerings. If BlackBerry can extend tools and support to solution providers, it may have a chance of staunching the outflow of customers.

BlackBerry has been working with distributors and carriers to bring support tools and applications to the channel. To accelerate its recovery, the company may want to elevate its channel presence, increase enablement and devise blueprints to extend services through solution providers.

Dispatching Alicia Keys to channel events would help, too. (Just a suggestion.)



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