As an avid smartphone user and mobile application developer, I enjoy watching Apple and Android manufacturers slug it out to push the limits of smartphone technology. However, with the stranglehold applied on the market by these two dominant platforms, how can a new entrant attempt to break into the market and survive? After observing the re-branding of Research In Motion (RIM) to BlackBerry and the much publicized launch of its new smartphone BlackBerry 10, I have learnt three valuable lessons in entering this highly competitive market:
1. Recognize the importance of the "service eco-system."
From the perspective of service management, it is important to break out of the “cycle of failure” by adopting a “winning mindset” and implementing “winning programs” for the “service eco-system”. The eco-system seeks to create a virtuous cycle of satisfaction amongst employees, customers, and shareholders. In the smartphone industry, app developers are one of the key entities that needs to be engaged and satisfied as they are both consumers and “external employees” for creating mobile applications. Blackberry recognized the importance of developers and actively engaged them to increase BB10's probability of success.
2. Engage the developers sincerely and aggressively.
With Apple, Android, and Windows vying for the attention and support of developers, it is important to engage the developers sincerely and aggressively. Blackberry implemented a series of initiatives to attract developers and to maintain their high level of satisfaction:
●Hosting free conferences in key global markets to build support and to engage in active dialogue with the developers.
●Releasing free beta devices for developers so that they can build and test their apps.
●Supplying numerous software tools and developer community support to aid mobile application development.
●Providing monetary incentives for developers, such as its “10K Developer Commitment” that guarantees a minimum income of $10,000 for developer's mobile applications.
●Issuing points for developer participation in the company's events and forums which can be exchanged for gifts, conference passes, and air tickets and accommodations for the conferences.
Through these initiatives, Blackberry was able to maintain high satisfaction levels in developers and during the launch of BB10, the platform's app market was able to secure a respectable 70,000 applications which included popular titles such as Angry Birds Star Wars, Whatsapp, and Evernote. The company was also able to raise its stock prices by almost 200% from a low of $6 per share in October 2012 to over $18 per share just before the launch of BB10.
3. Prioritize your markets.
During the launch of BB10 in January, Blackberry was able to prioritize its markets and focused on launching the product in their most profitable markets such as UK and Canada. The company also withdrew from unprofitable markets, such as Japan, and resisted calls to produce a cheaper version of its flagship product. By prioritizing and focusing its resources on key markets, Blackberry is reporting “huge surges in sales” although the company is reluctant to provide specific details on sales volumes.
The next few weeks will be interesting times for Blackberry as it attempts to maintain consumer interests in the US where the product won’t be launched until mid-March. For me, I like what I saw in BB10's global launch event and I am looking forward to receiving my BB10 device when it becomes available.