BlackBerry and Android: A Match Made in Mediocrity

blackBerry androidRumors abound that the beleaguered Canadian company BlackBerry is considering introducing Android-based smartphones to its lineup of products. First off, let me say I’m a little surprised that BlackBerry is still around at all! I figured they’d be long gone by now. It is a testament to how strong they were before, their entrenchment in the enterprise market, and their portfolio of technology assets that they’ve been able to stay in business to this point. Once the king of smartphones, BlackBerry’s world was turned upside down first by Apple’s iPhone and the subsequent plethora of Android-based devices. They are hardly a blip anymore in the mainstream market, and their grip on corporate accounts has been slowly but surely slipping over time. Their BlackBerry 10 (BB10) operating system was their last big salvo in the smartphone war and so far it has been largely ignored by the market at large. So now it seems that perhaps BlackBerry will turn to producing Android-based smartphones to capture any last chance at relevance.

Some industry experts think this is a good idea. To some degree, it could make some sense. BlackBerry 10 already includes an Android compatibility layer so that some Android apps will run on BlackBerry phones. This enlarges the potential library of apps that BlackBerry phones can work with. Certainly apps are critically important to a smartphone platform’s acceptance in the marketplace. So if the BB10 platform is a non-starter, why not go with an Android-based smartphone and go full-bore into that ecosystem?

Perhaps this is BlackBerry’s only option at this point. While publicly, BlackBerry is sticking with their BB10 operating system (which makes sense as to not knife the baby at this point), if they know that BB10 is ultimately doomed, their only chance at smartphone relevance is the “if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em” strategy. Since they can’t make Apple iOS devices, then Android is their only choice.

While maybe this is their only option, it doesn’t mean this is actually a good strategy for profitability. Joining the ranks of the multitude of Android smartphone manufacturers will simply dilute any differentiation the Blackberry brand had. Perhaps 10 years ago the BlackBerry brand would have stood out to the marketplace. However, in 2015, Android is a quagmire of mediocrity and the Blackberry name has not proven itself strong enough to attract customers since Apple introduced the iPhone in 2007, ushering in the New World of Technology. By becoming yet another Android smartphone manufacturer, BlackBerry will simply become another face in the crowd.

BlackBerry’s only chance is to survive in the Android marketplace is to become the flagship Android brand. With Samsung’s sudden decline in the overall smartphone market since Apple introduced their iPhone 6, there is an opening available for someone to swoop in and create a name for themselves. However, the Android marketplace is not a one that values differentiation. Android owners are hardly loyal to their devices, as has been shown with the defection rate from Samsung now that Apple has large-screen devices. I can not see a reasonable scenario where BlackBerry enters the Android market and is able to successfully compete with the other Android handset makers, not to mention Apple’s iPhone. If anything, the BlackBerry name is a symbol of the Old World of Technology and most consumers aren’t all that hip to buying a brand name from the Jurassic period of smartphones. If anyplace, the BlackBerry name may have some panache in the corporate world, but the New World of Technology has taught us that the consumer market sets the trends now. Without the consumer market, a mobile device like a smartphone has little chance of succeeding.

The bottom line is that whatever chatter you may hear about BlackBerry in the near future, don’t put too much stock in any hopeful news you may hear. Unless and until BlackBerry shows itself a resurgent force in the smartphone market, you are simply setting yourself up for another Android flash in the pan, and will likely be stuck with a device that has a dubious future, including the possible lack of timely (if any) updates for security or feature improvements.

The Biggest Decline in PC Shipments in History

PC Flatline

The PC Market is Flatlining

This news was so big that it was even being covered by the mainstream media yesterday: for the first quarter of 2013, PC shipments fell by 13.9% according to research firm IDC. This is the largest drop in PC sales since 1994, which is when IDC began tracking this information. Competing company Gartner, which uses a different methodology to track shipments and sales, reported that PC shipments fell by 11.2%, also one of the biggest declines in history.

It’s no secret PC sales have been declining over the last several years. PC industry pundits have been contorting themselves in all sorts of different ways to try to explain why this is, but most are simply avoiding the stark reality: the PC era is over. It’s time to come to grips that we are in The New World of Technology.

The underlying theme to this story is the fact that Windows 8 has done nothing to help PC sales. The real question, given the lackluster response to the operating system, is Windows 8 actually hurting PC sales? As I’ve said before, unless Microsoft hits a home run with Windows 8, the future of the company is seriously in doubt. At this point, it not only seems they’ve struck out, but to continue the baseball analogy, it seems they’ve let the runner get doubled up as well.

What does this mean for you? If it hasn’t been clear to you before now, hopefully news like this makes it glaringly obvious that you must get on board with New World Technologies NOW. The time to wait has long passed. Those who have waited to this point are already at a big disadvantage to those that have already begun benefiting from all that new technology has to offer. Anyone who continues to wait, especially from a business perspective, does so at their own peril. Specifically, if you thought Windows 8 was going to be Microsoft’s resurgence, all evidence points otherwise.

Do not invest further into Microsoft-based technologies without consulting with experts who have experience with both Old World and New World technologies. All too often, those who were experts in Old World technologies have little to no experience with New World technologies in a real-world environment. They show a bias towards Old World implementations because that is all they know and are comfortable with. Make sure you are getting advice from those who have actual experience with both New and Old World technologies and can make unbiased recommendations based on your needs, not their own.

New World Trends

370478-the-five-biggest-trends-at-ces-2013This article highlights some of the trends the author observed at this year’s Consumer Electronics Show. It’s a good read, if not a little overly-geeky.

The 8 Biggest Trends at CES 2013 - Slideshow from

The 8 Biggest Trends at CES 2013 – Slideshow from PCMag.comPundits were decrying this year’s CES from the get-go, thanks to Microsoft pulling out of the show for the first time since the mid-1990s.

I wanted to respond to a couple of things the author said.

There’s also a general sense out there that devices really aren’t the story anymore. Hardware manufacturers don’t want to hear that, necessarily, but it’s true that it’s no longer about specs for the majority of consumers. It’s more about what apps you can run and what services you can use—especially now that, as a rule, hardware has become powerful enough to do what people want.

I couldn’t agree more! But I’m surprised it’s taken this long for others to realize.

Hardware design will always be important, and in fact, it’s more important than ever. But the days of shopping for a PC based on how much RAM it comes with or how fast the processor is are pretty much gone, and that’s beginning to hold true for phones and tablets too.

Beginning to hold true for phones and tablets? It’s been true since the first day the iPhone came out! Welcome to The New World of Technology, buddy! Better late by 5 years than never, I guess 🙂

Consumers Are the Future of Information Technology

CES 2013Just as I’ve been saying for a while now, The New World of Technology is a bottom-up movement. Consumers and small businesses are now driving the technology industry, much to the chagrin of many in corporate IT departments. It’s nice to see that others are recognizing this trend now. The bottom line for small business is that waiting to see how technology shakes out is now a fool’s game. If you aren’t taking advantage of new technologies, your competitors surely are.

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