Something Jeffrey Stacey said to me Monday stood out in my mind as a pondered all the doomsday scenarios trotted out by the media after BlackBerry announced it was exploring strategic alternatives including a sale of the company.
What kind of role has negative media publicity and skepticism by the general public engendered by this publicity played in the lacklustre sales of the new BlackBerry 10 phones? said Stacey, whose Waterloo firm Stacey Muirhead manages funds invested in BlackBerry.
"How many people are there out there who are possibly entertaining buying a BlackBerry, but then they see the negative attention directed toward the company and go, ‘I’m not buying a BlackBerry. They may not be around,’ ” he wondered.
“As a shareholder of BlackBerry, that’s probably one of the things I worry about the most,” he said during an interview for my story on the announcement of a special board committee to explore strategic alternatives at BlackBerry.
In a nutshell, the BlackBerry 10 phones may be just as good as the iPhone and the Samsung phones, but negative media and word of mouth are killing its chances.
I use a BlackBerry Z10 supplied by the Record and it does almost everything one could ever want in a smartphone.
Admittedly, I am a member of the media so Idon't come at this argument with complete objectivity. But I'm talking about the cumulative effect of years of negative publicity published not just by the mainstream media, but the technology press and the investor press.
There's an old saying that negative publicity is better than no publicity at all. That's not the case here.
While BlackBerry was late to the party with its new line of smartphones and failed to outshine the competition, its costume is every bit as good as rivals Apple and Samsung, give or take a few hundred thousand, redundant bells and whistles.
Other factors are at play of course. Apple tries to lock its carriers into long-term contracts in the U.S., which forces them to promote iPhones over other devices. And the market is already flooded with good products.
But don’t the BlackBerry 10 devices deserve a chance based on their own merits, regardless of how the company is doing financially or the kind of market share it holds?
Do we all really want to be driving Fords or Toyotas in a couple of years? The smartphone market is not the desktop industry where everyone has to use the same operating system to share documents.
BlackBerry may be swallowed up by another company, it may go private or it may forge some kind of strategic partnership. It’s difficult to say what’s going to happen down the road.
A report surfaced in the last few days that the reason BlackBerry finally hung out the For Sale sign is that it is losing market share in one of its strongholds, Indonesia.
But the company’s protracted slide can’t be blamed on its technology.An example of its value surfaced late last week. BlackBerry announced that its BlackBerry 10 smartphones are the first to receive operational clearance by the U.S. Department of Defense.
The department is now developing the infrastructure to support 10,000 BlackBerry 10 smartphones by this fall and 30,000 by the end of 2013 on its networks, BlackBerry said.