What lies ahead in Future for BlackBerry?
Blackberry OS dominated the worldwide smartphone operating system market till 2011. According to Statista.com, “BlackBerry sales reached its peak in the last quarter of 2010, when 14.6 million Blackberry smartphones were shipped worldwide. After that, the figures started to drop dramatically, reaching the lowest figure to date in 2015, when the company only accounted for 0.31 percent of the market share.”
A number of websites nowadays advise users not to buy smartphones powered by Blackberry OS. To quote from a report posted on BGR.com, “Actually, there is one smartphone platform that somehow has an even lower share of the global market — BlackBerry OS — but it’s so low that it’s not even worth discussing anymore.” BlackBerry Limited (formerly Research In Motion) launched Blackberry 10 — the last major release of the proprietary mobile operating system — in 2012. The company further released versions 10.1, 10.2, and 10.3 of Blackberry OS in next two years.
But John Chen, the CEO of Blackberry, announced in January that all devices launched by the company in 2016 would be powered by Google’s mobile operating system — Android. Blackberry further rolled out Priv — its first ever Android-powered smartphone — in various countries. Priv failed to meet the ambitious revenue targets set by Blackberry due to its higher price tag and common features.
In July, Blackberry revealed its plan to launch three new Android-powered smartphones with varying form factors, hardware specifications, and price-tags. The announcement made by Blackberry resulted in many bloggers and analysts speculate that Blackberry will discontinue Blackberry 10 devices. The upcoming devices manufactured by the company will be powered by Android instead of Blackberry OS. However, the company has not confirmed its decision to discontinue its proprietary mobile operating system.
According to the response from Blackberry Ltd. posted on GSMArena.com, “BlackBerry’s device strategy is based on a cross-platform model where we’ll continue to support our BlackBerry 10 platform while expanding our device offering to include Android-based devices. We are focused on software updates for BlackBerry 10, with version 10.3.3 scheduled for next month, and a second update to follow next year.” Hence, the company will continue supporting Blackberry 10 platform and devices in future.
Blackberry made beta autoloaders for Blackberry 10.3.3 available to developers in May. The upcoming version of the mobile operating system will not include any major changes or new APIs. The developers can further run their existing Blackberry 10.3.2 apps seamlessly on the updated version. However, both users and mobile app developers have to wait till the official release of Blackberry 10.3.3 to know the new features and enhancements provided by it clearly.
Many analysts believe that it will be difficult for Blackberry Ltd. to make smartphones powered by its proprietary mobile OS popular among users. The company has to include many out-of-box features in the upcoming version of Blackberry OS to compete with Android and iOS. Also, it will find it daunting to convince developers to make their mobile apps available on Blackberry platform and devices. Hence, the company has to take several initiatives to regain the lost market share and popularity of Blackberry OS.
However, the company will not launch any new Blackberry-powered smartphones in near future. It will still support the Blackberry 10 devices actively in various markets. Hence, the company has adequate time to redesign and optimize its proprietary mobile operating system. Also, it has to launch an aggressive promotional campaign to seduce both customers and mobile app developers. The company has not announced any timeline for launching new mobile devices powered by Blackberry OS. That is why; the future of Blackberry OS and smartphones can be predicted accurately only when Blackberry announces it upcoming product lineup.