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Is BlackBerry Obsolete?

written by: Terry Caron•edited by: Simon Hill•updated: 5/20/2011

Is the BlackBerry brand of smartphone obsolete? Is the latest model, the BlackBerry Torch the answer to their competitor’s phones? Are they still the best choice for business users?

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    For close to ten years the BlackBerry has been a dominant player in the smartphone market and the dominant player in the business smartphone market. With the release of the Apple iPhone and Google’s Android OS, RIM has some stiff competition but they can still be a major player in this large market. Are we looking at an obsolete BlackBerry in the near future?

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    The Ever Changing Marketplace

    There are more and more options in the cell phone market today. It is no longer just about the features of the phones but also the service providers and what they have to offer. With faster data transfers, different data packages provided, and more options available via the web for smartphones, the market is constantly changing and expanding. So is the need for new technology in the smartphone devices. This is where some people are questioning the BlackBerry and its continued usefulness.

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    BlackBerry and the Business Market.

    The BlackBerry has always had the strongest presence in the business market with their email abilities and now they have more compatibility with MS Office products like Word, PowerPoint, and Excel. They continue to be the dominant provider to the business market and with the BlackBerry Enterprise Server their abilities to synchronize email and perform their signature business functions is even better. The competition is developing more capabilities for the business market but there is still a lot of room between BlackBerry and the others. The BlackBerry is still an excellent choice for business usage.

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    BlackBerry 6 and The Torch

    The BlackBerry 6 OS has the potential to be competitive in the market if it delivers on what is advertised. With features like, social feeds, better, faster searching, richer multimedia and more. BlackBerry 6 comes with a lot of enhancement that non-business users can enjoy. Is this enough to regain the once dominant stance they had? This strategy works well if they can deliver comparative to the iPhone and the Android phones. Unfortunately the display alone will hinder the Torch’s ability to compete with larger, higher resolution screens from other model phones. This coupled with little or no innovations for the business market will leave an expensive opening for others to begin stepping into that market share as well. If anything we can see that the executives and developers at RIM know where there competition is and where they can expand their market share holdings.

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    Over the second quarter of this year, Android sales have captured 33 percent of the market. This is in part due to the buy one get one phone sales push for the past quarter that has helped Android phones reach this level. RIM’s BlackBerry does have a somewhat entrenched market with businesses that will possibly prove to be its stronghold for the time being. Something of note: BlackBerry has a very loyal user base, not unlike a computer company had many years ago that was thought to also be obsolete. Yes, we are talking about Apple Computer in the mid 90’s. Without the infusion of fresh ideas and some great innovations this product line may have also been considered obsolete. This only proves one thing, it’s not over till it is over.

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    What This All Means

    If we are truly looking for an answer to whether the BlackBerry is becoming obsolete we will need to wait for the future or find a crystal ball. When it comes to technology the landscape is constantly changing and very unpredictable! Without a doubt the iPhone and Android have taken the smartphone markets by storm and revolutionized the industry with some great innovations and features. This may not be the end of the BlackBerry and as we can see with the BlackBerry 6 OS, RIM is not only looking to keep the enterprise markets in their pocket but also to start taking up some of the personal users with it. In business it’s not always the immediate result of an action but the platform that is set up by that action. What this means is that RIM has already set their focus on new BlackBerry customers and wants to keep their existing customer base. They proved this with the launch of their new OS. Even though all the features of BlackBerry 6 are not completely competitive with some of the Android and iPhone features it is definitely a step in the right direction. Implementing social media, better browsers, easier to use menus and a better developer’s platform can open the doors to becoming strongly competitive. Up until now, RIM has not pushed forth significantly in any attempt to capture large portions of the personal smartphone markets and it’s obvious that is all about to change.

    As stated earlier, the smartphone market is a broad based market with millions of customers. The initial battle for dominance in the smartphone market may have been won, lost and won again but in the end will any of these players truly become obsolete? This may end up being a source of competition for a long time where the customer will actually win by having numerous choices in terms of smartphone devices and features that work for the enterprise and personal use. We will just have to wait and see.