This week BlackBerry released the BBM app for Apple and Android products. Many former BlackBerry users around the world were happy to see their long lost friend again, and those who never had a BlackBerry could see what they missed out on.
There’s no doubt that this will help BlackBerry’s image and will keep their brand in the same conversation with the big players in the industry. However, I just don’t see how this is a smart long term strategy.
The way I see it, many people bought BlackBerry’s and refused to switch to other phones because of BBM. BlackBerry Messenger was their competitive advantage, even though it was a very slight advantage. You could argue that WhatsApp and other applications filled that void for Apple and Android but they just aren’t the same. The BlackBerry loyalists stuck with the brand because the other phones didn’t have anything as good as BlackBerry Messenger.
Now this week BlackBerry handed the BBM app to Apple and Android for FREE. They aren’t even charging a penny for people to download the app. I’m no genius, but you would think that a company that is losing money and market share faster than the States are racking up debt, would like to make some money. How in the world is BlackBerry giving away their major asset without attempting to generate revenue from it?! With BBM available to anyone with a smartphone there is no more incentive to use a BlackBerry device. I truly think that BlackBerry’s profitability and market share will plummet because of this strategy.
Some people say that this is an attempt to push Windows out of the market. I get that people with iPhones and Android who have BBM will put pressure on Windows consumers to switch to be able to communicate with everyone else, but Windows loyalists will find alternatives like WhatsApp. BBM’s been out of the game for so long that most people have found alternatives and have no problem communicating with all phone users. If consumers already have something that transcends phone brand, there really isn’t a huge incentive for them to switch.
Obviously I don’t work for BlackBerry and I don’t know what their goal is with this strategy. As a consumer, I am thrilled about the free app, but as a business person I am absolutely baffled. I really think this will be the final nail in the coffin for Blackberry. It seems like they have given up trying to compete with the big boys and surrendered.