| | 11-22-2013, 08:20 PM Thread Author #1
BlackBerry to rebuild in 2014
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ITWeb - ITWeb
BlackBerry ? once the darling of the smartphone world ? may have fallen on tough times amid the fast-paced smartphone war that is increasing in participant numbers and intensity, but the company is far from drawing its last breath.
This is according to Yudi Moodley, BlackBerry's new Johannesburg-based MD for Africa, who says the Canadian company is merely in transition and still has plenty of tricks left up its sleeve ? as well as a robust plan of action for 2014.
Former Durbanite Moodley, who has been working from BlackBerry's Bryanston offices for almost a month now, took over from Alexandra Zagury as part of a shake-up in management structure since Thorsten Heins stepped down as CEO and John Chen took his place.
A former Caltex analyst and CellC salesman and forecaster, Moodley has been part of the BlackBerry team since 2010 and says he is in it for the long haul, because he sees a bright future and exciting times ahead.
He says 2014 is the year BlackBerry's roadmap will be realised and the year the company needs to execute on its plans ? largely focused on its popular BlackBerry Messenger (BBM) platform, but also on the enterprise, its QNX operating system ? upon which BlackBerry10 is based ? and the launch of new devices.
BBM snapped up by Android, iPhone users
In the offing, says Moodley, is the launch of BBM Channels ? the company's foray into the mushrooming world of social media. The platform, which the company ultimately seeks to turn profitable, will allow brands, artists, businesses and communities to connect to consumers and groups in real time.
The popularity of BBM has given the company added confidence to forge on with the launch of the new open social media platform. Since 21October, when BlackBerry opened up its instant messaging platform to users of Android and iOS platforms, BBM has been snapped up by millions.
The day BlackBerry rolled out BBM for Android and iPhone customers, the app was downloaded more than 10million times. A week later, BBM stood on 20million downloads ? bringing the total number of BBM users to more than 80million. During the first week of open availability, BBM was the top free overall app in 35 countries in Google Play and in 107 countries in Apple's App Store.
Africa is an important market for the company, with consumers in SA and Nigeria keeping the BlackBerry brand healthy. While BlackBerry products and services are available in 43 countries across the continent, the two said markets remain strongest ? with three of the top 10 smartphones sold in SA and four of the top 10 in Nigeria being BlackBerry (GfK Retail and Technology, September 2013).
This week, the BlackBerryZ30 ? positioned by the company as its biggest, fastest and most advanced smartphone to date ? launched in SA, for now only through Vodacom. The phone ? which borders on being a phablet ? has been available in Nigeria since September.
Two months ago, BlackBerry announced its 2014 smartphone portfolio would transition from six devices to four. Moodley says this will include two high-end devices and two mid-range devices. The smartphones will include all-touch and Qwerty models.
In terms of future prospects as far as a tablet offering ? like the company's 2011 PlayBook ? Moodley says the company had not ruled out the option, but he could not comment at this stage. That said, Moodley added: "Never say never."
In the meantime, he says BlackBerry is "quietly going about its business" ? without focusing on what the competition is doing ? and moving to ensure it gives BlackBerry loyals what they want, while building on its products and services. Investment in Africa, he says, is all the while top of mind for the company.
As recently outlined by Chen, Moodley says the company will also continue to focus on moving to embrace a multi-platform, bring your own device (BYOD) world by adopting a new mobility management platform and a new device strategy.
QNX is another asset the company will continue to leverage into next year, says Moodley. BlackBerry is currently working with partners to create embedded technology for in-vehicle infotainment systems ? a development made possible by the company's purchase of QNX Software Systems in 2010.
"We are launching products and developing our services and platforms ? companies that are going under don't do that. The company is in transition and, meanwhile, it has a roadmap. The foundation is being built for the next generation," concludes Moodley ? echoing Chen's sentiments that BlackBerry will rebuild itself.