Examining BlackBerry’s conflicting strategies

BlackBerry CEO John Chen is taking advantage of the holiday and pre-CES news vacuum by posting an open letter on CNBC extolling the company’s strengths and outlining its strategy to turn things around. Chen once again explains that he has restructured BlackBerry into four new units — Enterprise Services, Messaging, QNX Embedded business and Devices — and touts the company’s security in mobile device management and messaging. Finally, noting the company’s $3 billion in cash, he vows that “The journey has just begun.”

Unlike some others, I think BlackBerry is wise to focus on the high-end enterprise users who continue to value the company’s messaging service and airtight security (even if that customer base has become a small niche market). That’s why I’m still struggling to understand its recent move to partner with Foxconn to build low- to mid-range smartphones for Indonesia and other emerging markets. That market teeming with cheap handsets running Android, Nokia’s Asha and other platforms, and BlackBerry’s security and MDM are unlikely to have much of an impact there. And Boy Genius Report writes today that the upcoming Foxconn devices won’t even have the physical keyboard that so many BlackBerry loyalists find compelling. Outsourcing its manufacturing business may save BlackBerry some money, but I think targeting emerging markets with low-end devices is a mistake.


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Colin Gibbs

Colin Gibbs

Mobile Curator Gigaom Network

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