A few months after my June 2015 post that BlackBerry should adopt Android as its underlying platform, BlackBerry did just that with the Blackberry Priv in November 2015. I’ll admit that I am happy to see that John Chen reads my blog and takes my advice. It may not look like the plan worked, but I would argue that had BlackBerry not adopted Android things would be far worse right now. At least the BlackBerry faithful have a thread to hang onto until the next moves play out.
With the platform issue out of the way, the question became, how to stop the financial bleeding of hardware design, manufacturing, and support costs. Admittedly, I haven’t been paying attention for a while, but I believe BlackBerry made the only possible move that makes sense. They outsourced their hardware manufacturing and design process. This is superior to dropping or selling the money-losing phone hardware business altogether since BlackBerry still needs a platform they control where they can build their software.
BlackBerry started the outsourcing process with Foxconn but were left having to provide marketing and distribution themselves. Their latest iteration of a deal is now with TCL who will take over that entire operation. Outside of the US, TCL is a pretty good size electronics company, so this is a pretty good move for BlackBerry. BlackBerry can rest assured that their hardware is relatively safe and sound from a design, manufacturing, and marketing perspective.
A key question remains. How does BlackBerry differentiate itself enough to get a core group of buyers that they can eventually grow?” I think their way back in is through the enterprise. The company I work for allows us to choose either an iPhone or an Android device. I see a relatively even split between iPhones and Android devices (I’m going to pretend this represents a good sampling of corporate America and since this is just a blog post I don’t have to provide any data to support my idea, LOL.) If BlackBerry can get themselves back in with Verizon and AT&T, I am sure that a large group of users will select them when choosing a phone.
As much as I love my iPhone I might be tempted to a BlackBerry running Android to have my good old Blackberry Hub, and physical keyboard back again…