The CEO for Blackberry, which for years was the leader of mobile e-mail access with a very loyal following, has admitted that its recent launch of new products was flawed. Indeed, it wasn't merely the launch that was flawed, but the products themselves had issues that were new to Blackberry, issues involving e-mail access. When a Blackberry device can't master e-mail access, it's looking at a very cold winter.
"Some buyers of the Q10, a model that includes BlackBerry's signature keyboard, have said they were disappointed to discover that it initially could not synchronize calendar and contact information with corporate systems that use Microsoft Outlook," reported The New York Times. "Others discovered mail syncing issues that they had not had with previous BlackBerrys. And although BlackBerry continues to expand the apps offered for the phone, many important ones are missing, and assessments of their overall quality are mixed."
Asked at a recent shareholder meeting if the Blackberry 10 had been a disaster, BlackBerry CEO Thorsten Heins gave a half-hearted defense. "Were we perfect at the launch?" Mr. Heins said. "Probably not. Was it a disaster? I don't think so."
Was the rollout a disaster? Heins was right: no, it really wasn't. The question is, though, is Blackberry in its entirety in the middle of a disaster right now? Regrettably, yes.
The new Blackberry units are selling poorly, but that's mostly because Blackberry has missed the point. Approaching the quality and features—or even matching—of iPhones and Androids won't help as iPhones and Androids already deliver that. Trying to be a little bit better than them is also unlikely to help.
If Blackberry has a chance, it will be found in Blackberry going in a very different direction. Last year, Blackberry was making very encouraging mobile payment noises in Canada, allowing for payment without coupons, ads or a cut of the revenue. That briefly raised the possibility that Blackberry could be the mobile payment breakthrough platform. Alas, nothing much came of that and the brand chose to just focus on that which Apple and Google's Android people are already doing quite well.
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