BlackBerry reveals ambitious new plans for smartphones

BlackBerry reveals ambitious new plans for smartphones (Image: Georgijevic via iStock)

Despite its current lack of prominence in the smartphone market, BlackBerry has revealed it intends to claw back some of its previous dominance with a return to premium mobile devices.
Speaking to journalists at the Mobile World Congress in Spain, chief commercial officer Francois Mahieu said he is dissatisfied with the brand's niche status and lack of market share at present.
"It doesn't have to be a niche business. I would not be satisfied with market share in premium [phones] that is sub-one per cent forever," he added.
Incredibly, Mr Mahieu revealed he intends BlackBerry to have recaptured between three and five per cent of the global smartphone market in just a few years' time.
This seems particularly ambitious given that BlackBerry's share is estimated as being significantly less than one per cent worldwide. Counterpoint Research claims that only 170,000 BlackBerry phones were sold in the final quarter of 2017 for a total of 850,000 units all year.
To return to premium status, BlackBerry would need to sell at least ten million units a year, which would certainly be one of the biggest comebacks of all-time, were it to happen.
The current slump is a far cry from the heady days of 2009, when Statista data showed the company controlled a fifth of the global smartphone market and easily competed with the likes of Apple.
Today, BlackBerry is focusing its attention on collaborations for this aspirational return, having stopped producing its own handsets in 2016 and instead begun licensing them out. One of the biggest partnerships is with TCL Communication in China.
However, results so far have been disappointing, with the KEYone handset failing to achieve commercial success last year. It meant BlackBerry had to rely on the US – but even its retail partnerships there did not deliver as much as the brand no doubt hoped.
Only AT&T and Sprint agreed deals, meaning that less than half of the customers who buy smartphones through mobile service providers were exposed to BlackBerry devices.
Going forward, it is likely that BlackBerry will pursue success with phones like the BlackBerry Motion to attempt to return to its former glory with consumers, as well as via software security services, especially for businesses.
However, it remains to be seen if that three to five per cent really is achievable.