A View from Jessica Leber
BlackBerry’s Fate is Intertwined with Its Keyboard
The ailing smartphone maker announced better-than-expected results, but still faces its most important moments ahead.
BlackBerry impressed Wall Street this morning with its first earnings report to include some sales of smartphones running BlackBerry 10, the operating system that the ailing manufacturer is counting on to save it. “Impress” is a relative term. It sold a million of these devices (6 million overall) while revenues dropped 40 percent since the previous year. Still, the Canadian company, formerly known as Research in Motion, did manage to turn a profit.
The sales figures, however, don’t say much yet one way or another about BlackBerry’s fate. They only included limited markets, and not the U.S., where the phone only launched a few weeks ago (see “BlackBerry’s New Phones Score Points on Technology”).
More importantly, the company hasn’t yet introduced its delayed Q10, the version that will have the much-loved physical QWERTY keyboard that has won over so many diehard fans over more than a decade. Take Google Chairman Eric Schmidt, of all people. He won’t let Google staff take his BlackBerry away.
Done right, the Q10 device represents the best hope for the company to sell to its fan base and maybe attract some new fans as well. After all, does anyone in Android- or Apple-land offer a physical keyboard product with lots of modern apps? A successful BlackBerry means more competition and choice for everyone.
Maybe the physical keyboard can revive the company. But more importantly, maybe the company can help keep the keyboard afloat.