BlackBerry death watch begins ticking after touch screen fiasco


I’m not sure which is worse, BlackBerry described as the smartphone equivalent of MySpace or the Canadian company being verbally parted-out like a 1991 Yugo. Both followed Friday’s 28 percent slide in BlackBerry stock prices after the company missed Wall Street expectations for sales of the Z10 handset.

Introduced in January, the touch-screen device was supposed to get BlackBerry into a game so far dominated by the iPhone and Android. Instead, the BlackBerry deathwatch began ticking as Wall Street investors slash expectations, the company itself stops talking about declining subscribers, and former Apple CEO John Scully suggests the smartphone maker stop making phones…

While some analysts toyed with the intricacies of Venezuelan monetary policy for why the Waterloo, Ontario firm announced $3.07 billion in revenue for the last quarter and 25 percent few sales than expected, other analysts were more blunt.

“We got a really good look at the Z10 demand and it’s a dud by any metric,” analyst Brian Blair of Wedge Partners told Bloomberg.

“The Z10 is central to BlackBerry’s attempt to branch out beyond phones boasting a physical qwerty keyboard,” the news service explains. While Blair believes the Z10 will still find favor with consumers wanting a smartphone keyboard, it may be a case of ‘who cares?’

The problem is without a successful touch screen model, developers won’t write for the platform, instead opting to focus on the iPhone or Android. Without the latest apps, consumers won’t buy the smartphone – and the vicious cycle repeats.

BlackBerry Z10 (siide, angled 001)

In other words, the BlackBerry is at risk of falling off the radar, much as MySpace did when Facebook exploded on the scene.

What to do in such a downward spiral?

First decision: no news is good news.

After announcing its subscriber numbers fell to 72 million during the last quarter, from 76 million and 79 million during the two preceding periods, BlackBerry told journalists Friday not to expect any future updates.

Secondly, get fans like Scully – who admits to typing “pages and pages” on his new BlackBerry – to talk up the company.

But maybe not.

This is what the 1983-1993 Apple CEO said about salvaging BlackBerry:

The clock is running out on them. They can come back if they drop hardware and focus on secure messaging.

Indeed, it was recently reported BlackBerry’s messaging system was coming to iOS.

BlackBerry Messenger coming to iOS (teaser 002)

Speaking of a salvage operation, BlackBerry’s time for takeovers may have already come and gone.

While BlackBerry stock briefly rose in January on speculation Lenovo Group might purchase the ailing handset maker, that vanished. Even at $8 per share, BlackBerry had no interested buyers.

Even in a race with also-ran Microsoft, BlackBerry lost, forced into fourth position in smartphone market share, IDC recently announced.

All that’s left is the ticking of the BlackBerry deathwatch and looking back at memories.

Remember 2008: the iPhone had just been released and Apple’s new device had only 8 percent of the market with some upstart named Android registering a tepid 1.28 percent of smartphone sales.