The first results since BlackBerry’s Z10 and Q10 smartphones have been widely available are out. BlackBerry reported its fiscal first quarter 2014 earnings on Friday and disappointed Wall Street, which was expecting a profit but was instead treated with yet another quarterly loss. The quarter doesn’t reflect well on BlackBerry, which has put all its eggs into its new smartphones and its fresh BlackBerry 10 operating system. Clearly something isn’t working here.
Take a look: the company sold 6.8 million BlackBerry units globally during the quarter. Only 2.7 million smartphones sold ran its new BlackBerry 10 operating system. Samsung, which is running away with BlackBerry’s market share across the globe, sold 10 million Galaxy S4 devices in just 26 days. While BlackBerry keeps telling the world that it’s making a comeback and that it’s putting a larger focus on emerging markets, we’re not seeing any results.
Instead, the company continues to sit in the red. Worse yet, we weren’t treated to any big news during BlackBerry Live this year, save for the confirmation that BBM is coming to Android and iOS at some point this summer, and a new mid-range BlackBerry Q5 smartphone that arguably bores even the most hardcore of the company’s fan base.
Shares of BlackBerry peaked earlier this year in January when the company’s stock price hit $17.90, but it’s now trading lower than it has all year at around $10.91. Sure, the company traded below $3 within the last two years, but it also traded as high as $133 in the past five years. At one point there was a restored faith that BlackBerry’s new operating systems and handsets could flip the switch, likely the reason we saw a run in the stock over the past several months, especially when the company reported a profitable fiscal fourth quarter. Now that the cards are on the table it appears BlackBerry was bluffing. So where does it go from here?
It’s possible that the firm will charge for additional features in BlackBerry Messenger on iOS and Android, but that’s assuming that anyone even wants to adopt it. CEO Thorsten Heins and his team have a positive outlook on the once popular messaging platform, but the group is completely oblivious to competing options from Google, Apple, Facebook, WhatsApp and Kik, just to name a few. The free messaging industry is far too crowded for BlackBerry to make a footprint; the ship of opportunity sailed three years ago.
I don’t see a real window for growth in the near future, but maybe a sale. The BlackBerry 10 app store is far behind Apple and Google’s app stores, when it comes to the sheer number of applications available, and its devices are clearly not attracting consumers. China and India could be key growth markets, they are the world’s first and third largest markets, respectively, but Samsung and local phone makers already have tight holds in those arenas. Worse, Apple’s rumored budget iPhone will likely be a fierce contender.
BlackBerry itself admitted the highly competitive smartphone industry is partially to blame for its lack of success, and that the current industry environment could lead to more danger next quarter.
Time is running out.