Blackberry - Reclaiming the Success & Why it failed to create a sustainable impact ?

The Fruit of Labor & Reclaiming its Success
Today’s brew is for Blackberry
Brew date: 12th May 2015
Type: Served Hot, to be consumed a.s.a.p.

Here is Blackberry’s (Research in Motion, RIM) business analysis along with the thoughts to tweak their business model.

Some links to read to understand BB’s Business Model, its recent activities: 
      1) Recent changes & transformations at BB: 

The Brew will focus majorly on 2 aspects of BB
        1) Business Analysis
        2) Improvisations of its Business Strategy

      a) Business Analysis: Why BB (RIM) failed to create sustainable impact?
At one point, BB was one of the first companies to operate in the space of Products, Services and Platforms simultaneously. Currently, it still operates in these spaces but with lower market shares.

Following are the points that come to mind with respect to the operating model of BB are as follows:

     1) BB, originally was an innovative company offering tech innovations centered on mobility but it missed out having a grand Vision, which would have possibly made the difference given that Technology was going to be a core enabler of future transformations, though it certainly have business objectives to be met. Companies operating at the scale of BB with high degree of innovations, have power to transform the global index of living.  A lack of vision results in lack of strategic direction, with companies being forced to focus on the present day needs. The need to create or contribute to future still does not resonate within BB.

  2) BB’s Innovation model, initially was mapped and moved in alignment with Evolving Technology cycles + Consumer needs cycle, however as its businesses grew, the innovation cycles got focused on subsets of Consumers with incremental improvements, and eventually, the organic innovation cycle went static.
       3) Aggravating the above, BB could not identify its Competence. Its competence initially was its Innovative, disruptionary and convergent offerings, Post innovation model going static; its Competence now became its Brand association with some of the key features of its offerings (Security, Communication etc).

Having highlighted this inference, along with the above points, 2 Possibilities follow:

      a) There is an Opportunity for BB to ‘Reclaim their Success’ in a larger way by developing similar competence in its other offerings (Note: BB still has market offerings in space of Products, Services and Platforms). The way to go ahead will be to identify Evolving Consumer Needs and mapping them to the Offerings of BB along with setting a vision of innovation and disruption, and reviving the innovation cycle (organic & inorganic).

                                    Tech Competence + Strategy  = Competitive Advantage

 To achieve a distinct competitive advantage which aligns with the vision, BB will have to rebuild its internal innovation cycle as a Competence, along with having an aggressive strategy for acquiring Innovative firms (aligning to Vision) and over time build a sustainable Competitive advantage.
b) The other easy route will be to Leverage the current tech competence (of security) and expanding its continuum to larger areas of Consumer Needs. This as well will need setting up in principle Innovation cycle an expanding to End-to-End Security Solutions firm in the evolving gamut of technology. Any other move to play small will result in BB serving lesser niche areas than the current ones in times to come.

4) From the way things have turned up at BB recently (with the transformation), it does not have a good strategy for future (a strategy either creates a competence or leverages on a competence to create a sustainable competitive advantage), what BB has now is a decent make shift marketing tactic to turnaround their business with the same value proposition to different segment to unlock existing value. This would have been a good addition in the overall scheme of things, but currently, it’s the only thing, which BB wants to focus on.

      5) Shifting focus from being an Product Offering Company which satisfies Consumer Solutions to vice versa.

      b) Improvisations to its Business Strategy
    1) From the latest developments coming from BB, the company wants to now focus on Enterprise side of business while leveraging the competence of Security to its offerings. This leads to 2 possibilities on the BB end, treating Security as a Vertical (and driver) and Offerings as a Horizontal, which means innovations will be in Technology of Security, and BB will be predominantly a Security Offering Technology company. Or Enterprise Offerings can be the Vertical (the driver) and Security, the Horizontal, leading to expansion of BB developing end to end offerings in enterprise space right from communication, data and security. This will lead to BB being an Enterprise Solution enterprise.

Wont recommend the 2nd, where Security will be underplayed over the period of time, rather it makes sense to establish Leadership in competence of Security along with existing offerings, and over the while developing Enterprise end to end solution.

     2) In either of the cases above, BB should understand that Security, though is a Critical factor, the Usability, Value and experience are going to be other key success factors as well (Comes out good from the acquisitions of SecureSmart), and hence it will have to keep adding value to its Portfolio at the same time innovating on the paradigms of security.

    3) Having a Dual Strategy of developing Cross - Multi Platform based Solutions along with developing Consumer Offerings of Messenger, Communication and Connectedness further.

    4) Focusing on external key drivers like enabling Payments, E – Wallets, Disrupting Digital Currency needs (evolving consumer needs) etc. and mapping them to consumer trends (social networks etc) where developing a convergent solution along with, Messaging, Personal Security, Platform Security, Identity Management etc

5) The acquisition strategy of BB needs some tweaking and direction, as acquisitions of Securesmart (done to access markets of public offices, however, the Organic Competence of BB is Security) and Movirtu (Virtualization of multiple Sims) considering that its relevant, it defies the purpose given that BB focuses on generating a single PIN for an identity, which should be its key offering across, having a Single PIN for a single identity with multi adaptability across SIMS.

6) Given that Blackberry solutions are powering all kinds of devices, it should as well look at either opening up BB OS to tweak it for better usability or acceptability either by Organic innovation model or crowdsourcing ways, however Cos BB offers Platform based solutions across multi platforms, and embracing Amazon App store signals cannibalization of BB world, it will just make more sense to embrace Open source OS (Android/ Cyanogen etc) thus increasing the acceptability of BB phones (BB secured phones).

7) An inception point for BB will be to enter the Wearable’s space, and setting up space for personal analytics. These analytics can then go to power BB’s end to end Healthcare Ecosystem and other consumer solutions. BB can as well be an enabler for Personal analytics to 3rd party in a developed ecosystem with Consumer agreements. This ecosystem can certainly be extended to an innovative convergent platform model (offering BB solutions of Identification, Security, Chat, Video Call, Payments) with other players getting involved through multi – platforms.

Please drop in your comments or reach out on [email protected]

Version B - For General Read with Background theory and analysis

Before heading to critical aspects, it would be wise to spend some time on understanding a few nuances of BB, its successes, misses and possible reasons.

BB, earlier known as Research – in – Motion (RIM) was one of the pioneers in the field of communications starting with the Pagers. It was the first company to integrate email to pager. BB was a brand of RIM, but the acceptance, recall and association of BB was so strong, that RIM decided to rechristen itself to BlackBerry.

In 2003, the more commonly known convergent smartphone BlackBerry was released, which supports push email, mobile telephone, text messaging, Internet faxing, Web browsing and other wireless information services.

BlackBerry gained market share in the mobile industry by concentrating on email. BlackBerry began to offer email service on non-BlackBerry devices, such as the Palm Treo, through the proprietary BlackBerry Connect software.

The original BlackBerry device had a monochrome display while newer models installed color displays. All newer models have been optimized for "thumbing", the use of only the thumbs to type on a keyboard. 

One of the key USP of BB handsets was the trackball mechanism, which allowed four-way scrolling and which resonated greatly with the audiences at one point of time.

With all these key points, as BB’s selling proposition was ability to access emails over the phones and BBM (Blackberry Messenger, again a pioneer in type messaging, but available only to BB users). These accessibility solutions were largely considered to be of corporate nature (Cos Email & Messenger were still a Business tool), and hence BB chose to focus on the Persona of a Corporate User, only to realize after some time that these Solutions will play a major role in mass markets as well.

Incidentally, RIM was adjudged as the most innovative and fast growing company in Year 2010.

            From the above facts, we can draw several inferences:
1) BB at one time was a company, which pioneered innovation at different levels of Consumer needs (Software, Hardware, Communication) & Mobility. Overall, it was company which focused creating convergent innovative solutions which disrupted the markets

2) Though BB’s offering was disruptive in a way, they were never offered to the larger markets. From an outward looking company, over the time it turned in to an inward looking company by focusing on existing markets, presenting other players an opportunity to tap these larger segments.

3) BB followed a path of limiting its innovations in a Closed BB Ecosystem in most of the cases along with a Limited market philosophy (discussed above)

4) One can as well see a shift in the degree of Innovations practiced from earlier times to current times. The Cycle of Innovation ranked high initially but tapered off as the times progressed. As well, the Brand Image of BB was too strong with its products, that at one point it became an albatross around the neck for BB.

         The Brew will focus majorly on 2 aspects of BB:
      1) Business Analysis (Refer to Version A above)
      2) Improvisations of its Business Strategy (Refer to Version A above)

Please drop in your comments or reach out on [email protected]

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