Have you guys ever heard of a game called Jenga? Jenga is a game where you take a lot of time building this really nice solid wooden block structure and you spend the rest of the evening tearing it apart very carefully piece by piece, and if you’re the person who pulls the piece that makes the entire thing collapse you lose because you did it wrong. That one piece was holding the entire structure together and you just happened to ruin everything because you pulled it.
Former RIM co-executive Jim Balsillie essentially just pulled a Jenga. BlackBerry has spent a long time building up this nice solid wooden structure, and carefully piece by piece over the years they’ve been removing blocks (unintentionally). They tried to build their structure up again by releasing BlackBerry 10 last month, but with less than a month on the market BlackBerry has since fallen more than 25% in stocks, including an extra 6% that has followed since Bloomberg reported on Balsillie selling his shares. If you were to ask a Magic 8 Ball how BlackBerry will do within the next year the result would turn up: Outlook not good.
I like BlackBerry 10. It looks nice, it brings a fresh perspective to the table, and it seems relatively easy to use. Where I think I would have changed how BlackBerry went about things would be that I would cater to the loyal fans first. The people who still use BlackBerry probably do so because of its traditional form factor more-so than what the old software itself can do (which isn’t much when compared to Android or iOS). By releasing the Z10 before the Q10 they were basically saying hey, thanks for sticking with us; we try to do our best to keep you satisfied. But why don’t you switch from that old form factor and try this very generic easy-to-obtain form instead? I feel like they should have either released the Q10 first or at least at the same time. Most of them have been waiting for quite some time for BlackBerry 10 and the ones who aren’t interested in an all-touch phone will have to wait even longer if they want an updated software with the traditional BlackBerry form.
The biggest issue was clearly that BlackBerry waited this long to release this software that’s, at this point, only comparable to Windows Phone. It is upsetting to see that the stocks are falling so quickly after its release, but I think for the most part I’m not exactly surprised. I had hoped that people would give it a chance, but perhaps it’s time to face the reality that if it doesn’t have a “wow” factor and if it doesn’t have the greatest specs it’s probably not going to get a lot of attention no matter how hard you try to justify the reasoning behind the tardiness of its release.
The stigma around BlackBerry 10 was already, for the most part, skeptical and negative. While there are those of us who would like to give the company a chance to redeem itself, there’s only so much you can do with a small following. However, it’s still early in the game and it only takes one spark to start a fire. Perhaps they will continue to build on that spark and keep improving (hopefully much more rapidly than the time it took to release the software) and stocks might pick back up. Or maybe I’m just being too optimistic about it all, which very likely seems the case right now.
Readers, how do you feel about BlackBerry’s stocks? Do you feel that the former co-executive made the decision to move on because he was cutting ties from the company, or because he had no faith in the future of BlackBerry? Do you see any hope for BlackBerry’s redemption in the future? Let me know your thoughts in the comments!