Abhishek - Electrical Engineering — 14 February 2013
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Will BlackBerry Bloom or Shrivel?

As an electrical engineering major and BlackBerry developer, I’m always watching trends in mobile device use, particularly BlackBerry.

For a time, BlackBerry was Wall Street’s favorite phone thanks to its business-friendly features and style. Manufactured by Research in Motion (RIM), BlackBerry was a top contender in the mobile phone market a decade before the release of the first iPhone. Its unique keyboard-based phone, tailored email system and BlackBerry Messenger (BBM) service attracted most of its customer base. But, with iPhone snatching BlackBerry’s mobile device market share, BlackBerry has fallen from its previous glory.

When BlackBerry 7, which featured free long-distance calling from its BBM was released a few months back, not many subscribers upgraded to the new operating system. BlackBerry’s Playbook, which was released to compete with Apple’s iPad, was also a disaster. The slow operating system, small size and lack of applications led to its downfall.

Shares of RIM lost about 80% of their 2009 high of $82 per share and fell to a low of $6.3 per share in September 2012. With most of the financial and technical analysts degrading their ratings on RIM, BlackBerry had to come up with something fast to survive in the rapidly growing smart phone market.

BlackBerry 10 (BB10), their latest operating system, was finally released after several delays. I am really excited to explore the new feature set and am curious if it is enough to give them a competitive edge in the smart phone space. I think it’s their last chance at survival; they have a lot riding on its adoption.

BlackBerry is facing tough competition from Samsung, Microsoft and Nokia. They are all fighting for the third spot in the mobile device market while Apple and Google continue to dominate first and second spot. To remain competitive, BlackBerry has released six new phones with the BB10 operating system. Some of these new full touch screens compete with Apple’s iPhone and Google’s Galaxy S series phones.

BB10 has been in the news for about six months now, teasing out the new features. Recent developer versions of the BB10 reveal that the operating system is built on a flow-type. Flow-type allows the user to flow from one screen-view to another. Some of the other BB10 features include a time-shift camera and an improved email system. The time-shift camera is a neat feature for amateur photographers looking for that perfect shot. It allows users to select the best image from a series of frames.

(https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=hF2cLwPHaNY)

Only time will tell the future of BlackBerry, but recent media coverage and interest in BB10 has helped increase their share price, at least temporarily. As a BlackBerry user, shareholder and developer myself, I will be watching what happens after the new operating systems and device has been on the market for a while and make a follow-up post.

What do you think? Does BlackBerry have a shot at remaining a dominate player in the mobile device market? What device are you using today?

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Abhishek Barla

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