Dead again: BlackBerry sinks hopes for a resurrection

New CEO John Chen is saying all the wrong things his predecessors did and killing all glimmers of hope

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Misguided pronouncements are one thing, but where I began to doubt the substance of the company, as opposed to just its marketing, was when suddenly Chen said this week BlackBerry was still interested in the consumer market -- days after he fired singer Alicia Keys as its global creative director, a role meant to appeal to that vey consumer market. BlackBerry has had a stupid, on-again-off-again dalliance with the consumer market for several years, given that the company is entrely clueless about style and techno-hipness. Every effort in that direction has been laughably dumb. But, hey, let's try it again while we're barely hanging on!

Also this week, Chen trotted out to a series of reporters the claim that business users really want keyboards, which will drive BlackBerry's success. (I couldn't believe that Re/code's Ina Fried reported that comment with a straight face.) BlackBerry execs have been saying that the keyboard will save them ever since the iPhone debuted in 2007 -- and it simply isn't true.

The proof is simple: BlackBerry's own modern keyboard smartphone, the Q10, has garnered very poor sales. The company won't disclose the numbers, but indications are that the Q10 has sold less than even the poor-selling all-touch Z10. Before the Q10, BlackBerry secretly could tell itself the problem was the old OS, but the Q10 removes that excuse. And keyboard-equipped smartphones have done poorly in the Android world, which is where the vast majority of the buying action can be found these days. If there were a meaningful market for keyboard-equipped smartphones, the Android vendors would be all over it.

If Chen really believes a keyboard is what will save his company, he needs to hang it up now -- close down BlackBerry and stop the whistling-Dixie death march.

A company can only fool itself -- and try to fool its employees, investors, and customers -- so many times before the rest of the world has to abandon it. There are only so many saviors you can claim before you have to admit you can't be saved. BlackBerry has now reached that point. There's no there there. Let it go, before we all wish it were dead. I've reached that point, and I believe that day is not that far off for everyone else.

This article, "Dead again: BlackBerry sinks hopes for a resurrection," was originally published at Read more of Galen Gruman's Mobile Edge blog and follow the latest developments in mobile technology at Follow Galen's mobile musings on Twitter at MobileGalen. For the latest business technology news, follow on Twitter.


Copyright © 2014 IDG Communications, Inc.

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