Before Apple’s iPhone came out in 2007, the smartphone market was in fact dominated by BlackBerry. One of its chief features was the familiar tactile keyboard that sat underneath the screen until BlackBerry decided in 2013 to take its phones in a new direction more traversed by its contemporaries and created a phone dominated entirely by a touch screen. Sales didn’t improve. On June 11, 2015, we learned from Reuters that the failing company may be choosing to run Android in future models. This raises many questions about the company’s fate and whether this was the right decision to make. Is Android the ideal operating system for BlackBerry phones?
BlackBerry’s Precarious Situation
In the earliest years of the 21st century, the BlackBerry was the phone to get. The BlackBerry basically set a precedent for what a smartphone was supposed to be like. It recorded video, browsed the Internet, and had an enlarged screen that was more than appropriate for the wide range of functions. Its victory over the smartphone market was short-lived, however, when Apple began to chip away at its market share. Since then, the story of Research In Motion (RIM), the company in charge of the BlackBerry phone line, has been marred by a sequence of disappointments. Its market share for the 2010s has been at around one percent, giving shareholders the impression that the company was grasping at straws to remain relevant in an economy where customers have different demands.
For a time, RIM has been largely successful with business-oriented users, popular among executives and professionals. This is due largely to the impressive security in its operating system, including its unique elliptic curve cryptography (ECC) algorithm. Since 2010, even among the business demographic, BlackBerry has been losing ground because of its lack of flexibility with applications. Enterprise apps on phones were largely abandoning BB in favor of iOS and Android. Today, you will be pressed to find a popular app that runs on it anymore.
Is Android A Solution?
Android has seen a great deal of success, overtaking Apple in sales in one of its few remaining bastions in February 2015. This was in no small part due to the availability of choice when buying Android phones. While Apple iOS runs exclusively on the iPhone manufactured by the same company, Android is capable of being licensed on a virtually unlimited number of devices. This brings us to BlackBerry, a company struggling to maintain relevance with an operating system that very few people are showing any interest in. According to the report by Reuters, while RIM (now known as BlackBerry Limited) desires to continue the development of the BlackBerry operating system, it appears to release phones that also run Android to help it pick up market share outside of its niche.
Should this come to fruition, I see no immediate change in BlackBerry’s fate unless they also spend considerable time forming a proper marketing strategy for these new devices. If BlackBerry can maintain the level of security it has while running Android, I think it could be a splendid opportunity to provide both professional and privacy-minded consumers with a new platform to work with.
What do you think? Would you buy a BlackBerry phone if it ran on Android?