BlackBerry announced it will stop internal hardware development and focus on the business of software and services. Why? You can’t lose money forever. BlackBerry lost another $372-million in the most recent quarter, and revenue dropped another 30-percent.
For all intents and purposes, BlackBerry– as we knew BlackBerry back when the iPhone launched in 2007– is a member of the walking dead, and joined a long list of once major smartphone makers that have died or are dying under the combined weight of Apple’s iPhone and Google’s Android platforms.
Wait. Isn’t Microsoft still selling phones?
Not really. Microsoft makes more money from Android license fees than it does from selling an anemic line of so-called smartphones that seem to decrease in sales numbers every year. To match my headline ‘the walking dead‘ I hereby deem Microsoft’s smartphone business walking dead; a line of zombie phones. They’re still out there somewhere but it’s not a thriving, living platform. It’s the platform of the walking dead smartphone.
Look at what has happened to the smartphone landscape since the iPhone was released in 2007. First, Google recognized the value of Apple’s design and dropped its BlackBerry-like Android and went back to the drawing board to copy the iPhone’s operating system design. Second, executives of major smartphone manufacturers mocked Apple and laughed at the iPhone. It didn’t have a hardware keyboard. Bah humbug.
Third, the buying public voted on the change Apple wrought, dumped their old brands and switched to iPhones (and, a few years later, Android-based devices); a change that took a few years but brought major disruption upon the entire industry.
Whatever happened to Microsoft’s Windows Phone operating system? Where is BlackBerry today? What of industry giant Nokia? Where are Motorola, HTC, Palm, and all the other so-called smartphone makers that had conquered the industry a decade ago.
They’re either zombies or they’re dead.
That means the entire smartphone industry looks and feels much like the Windows vs. Mac wars of yesteryear. How so? Windows is an operating system while the Mac is a line of personal computers. Today, Android is the world’s most used operating system, while the iPhone is a line of smartphones.
Just as it was with traditional personal computers, an industry carved up by Microsoft and a few dozen PC manufacturers who seldom make much money, so it is with the Android smartphone market, dominated by one manufacturer, leaving the others to compete solely on price. That status also allows Apple to own the premium end of the smartphone spectrum, and the major of the industry’s profits.
Shouldn’t every Android-based smartphone maker other than Samsung be considered among the walking dead among smartphones? As BlackBerry has shown, you cannot lose money forever. From now on, the company will focus on software and services, and let others make the hardware. How has that worked out for Android-based smartphone makers to date?
Walking dead, indeed.