If your company had gone from industry titan to afterthought in a few short years, you’d be eager to brag about any positive development. So it’s understandable that BlackBerry would want to talk about any BlackBerry 10 success this week while at Mobile World Congress. While they didn’t provide any specific sales numbers — we’ll have to wait for the next quarterly report for that — they did provide what appears to be a significant data point.
According to VP of global sales Rick Costanzo — via FierceWireless — about a third of people purchasing the BlackBerry Z10 in its 50 current markets have switched from other platforms. That is quite encouraging indeed. After hemorrhaging customers to other platforms for years, BlackBerry absolutely needs to win back some previous customers. According to Costanzo, that’s exactly what’s happening. That has to be a somewhat encouraging sign for BlackBerry, especially so early in its campaign.
While Costanzo cites returning customers as one area of growth, his other reason seems a bit flimsier. According to the FierceWireless report, Costanzo believe that people are tired of the Android and iOS interfaces. This makes little sense. If that were try, people would be flocking to Windows Phone 8. They might have given WebOS a longer look.
Of course, this is just Costanzo staying on messages and inflating the new BlackBerry interface. In reality it’s not that revolutionary. Other mobile operating systems, including the dead WebOS, have utilized many of the features that BlackBerry 10 does. Gestures might be its thing, but it’s not a game-changing feature. In fact, many users might find it easier to perform those tasks with virtual and physical buttons on Android devices.
BlackBerry 10 will face a steeper climb when it reaches US shores in March. Many corporations that previously used BlackBerry devices have switched to Android or iOS, or at least have given their employees the option to switch. There seems to be no reason for any company these days to carry only BlackBerry devices. In the consumer market BlackBerry was never a big player, and by 2008 it was railroaded by iOS, which has only improved since.
Even for those who don’t like Apple products, it is hard to imagine many consumers opting for BlackBerry when there are so many superb Android devices out there. Shortly after the BlackBerry 10 hits US soil (and perhaps right around the same time), Samsung will announce the Galaxy S IV. That will certainly take some of the wind out of BlackBerry’s sails.
As someone who used BlackBerry for years before experimenting with iOS and Android, I can say that a lot of BlackBerry’s problems were overstated. If your primary purposes for using a smartphone involve messaging, it wasn’t all that bad a platform. But we know smartphones can do so much more these days. Why choose a platform that is limited, over a platform that is clearly growing?