OK, everyone usually goes for a BlackBerry Pie joke so I thought I’d do crumble instead – but if I were a shareholder or employee I doubt that I’d find that funny. It is a fact, however, that the new OS, BlackBerry 10, will not be coming out until Q1 of 2013.
The company is reportedly getting people to work six day weeks even to stick to that deadline, which, when the original idea was to get it out in Q3 of 2012 (note to people who hadn’t noticed: that is right now) sounds odd.
Yes there have been board level reshuffles and resignations. Yes, there have been huge redundancy programmes which hurts. But the way to make these issues go away is surely to have a solid release programme which doesn’t wobble whenever there’s a technical issue.
RIM says the problem is partly that the next version of BB has to be flawless. This is true enough but other companies are managing to release software systems that keep the market perfectly happy. It’s realistic, though, to suggest that if it fails then it will almost certainly bury the company forever.
The big question is whether it’s actually rescuable. The foray into tablets seemed doomed from the start, and the fire-sale prices just under a year ago to clear stocks added to the impression of a company that was drifting. The fact that by the time BB10 comes out the company won’t have put a major launch together for longer than any of the competition doesn’t help.
And yet the emotional part of me wants the business to succeed. With this many players in the mobile market it’s never going to be the world number one as it was when it was the only option. However, its customers remain ferociously loyal. Only two weeks ago we highlighted a case study in this newsletter of an organization that was saving vast amounts and increasing productivity purely because of these phones and, yes, tablets too.
For these reasons if no others I’d love to see the company coming back. I just can’t see how, when Apple is likely to have yet another phone in the mix by then (I have no insider knowledge, I just can’t see 2012 as the first year since 2007 in which Apple doesn’t produce a new handset). Nokia is pushing Windows as hard as a Windows-Pushy-Thing, plus inevitably more from Google; all of this will mean BB 10 goes into a market it wasn’t expecting.