Reasons to defect
On the other hand, maybe you've had enough of sticking with BlackBerry as it struggles to reinvent itself. The relevance of its smartphone platform has plummeted in recent years, as RIM was too arrogant to recognize the challenges posed by iOS and Android. There’s a lot to like about the new BlackBerry 10 and Z10 handset, but it’s all too little, too late. Here's why you should drop the brand:
1. Lack of apps
BlackBerry has gone to great lengths to ensure a reasonable inventory of apps for its new platform. It paid a bounty to developers as an incentive, which has largely worked; BB10 had tens of thousands of apps at launch. Compared to the hundreds of thousands of apps available for iOS and Android, though, this is a drop in the bucket. Granted, the total number of apps is not very relevant as long as key apps are available. Users expect apps like Facebook, Netflix, and Kindle to be available—yet for BlackBerry 10, they're not.
2. Technical difficulties
Reliability is important for any mobile service, but it’s particularly crucial for a smartphone used for business productivity. If the service goes down, business shuts down—and that's simply unacceptable. No service is perfect, but RIM/BlackBerry has had more than its fair share of outages over the past couple years. Hopefully outages won’t be regular events moving forward, but the credibility has been tarnished. Only time will tell.
BlackBerry rose to dominance at a time that IT admins were still dictating technology choices. Now, users have much more voice in the decision process, or simply get to choose their own device. If shoppers at Best Buy won’t choose a BlackBerry Z10 over an iPhone 5 or a Samsung Galaxy SIII, BlackBerry is in trouble.
Case in point: While the traditional BlackBerry audience might be the right fit for the services provided by DisclosureNet, a cloud-based service for viewing and analyzing corporate financials and other disclosure documents. However, the company is taking a wait-and-see approach to developing a BB10 app. I spoke with Mihnea Galeteanu, product manager for DisclosureNet, who isn’t confident that BlackBerry can capture the attention of consumers. He believes that because of the BYOD and "consumerization" trends, it will be difficult for BlackBerry to gain traction without consumer demand.
As the DisclosureNet dilemma illustrates, there’s also a bit of chicken-and-egg syndrome involved. Consumers may opt against BlackBerry due to a lack of key apps, and the developers are less likely to create apps for the platform due to a lack of demand. It’s a recipe for disaster.
4. A sinking ship
I don’t know if BlackBerry will disappear completely, but it’s not going to rebound. Scraping single-digit market share to take fourth place behind iOS, Android, and Windows Phone doesn’t exactly instill confidence.
There have been suggestions that BlackBerry could shift gears and license the OS to other vendors—but at this point I’m not sure any vendors would bother. And there’s been talk of BlackBerry being acquired in whole or in part. If your company relies on BlackBerry, this is a good time to choose a new path on your own terms, rather than waiting for the company to cave in on itself.
5. BlackBerry Fusion
One of the best reasons to start transitioning off of BlackBerry is that BlackBerry has made the process easy. BlackBerry Fusion lets you manage iOS and Android devices using your existing infrastructure. Thanks to BlackBerry Fusion, you can test out both iOS and Android without having to commit upfront, and you can migrate to a new platform (or platforms) over time.