With every Plan A, there should be a Plan B. But with BlackBerry 10, we’re already on Plan Z. As much as people will preach their love or hatred of the new BlackBerry 10 as it unfolds in the coming days, the fact remains that even a desperate company needs one last backup plan. So what can BlackBerry – the former RIM – do if BB 10 fails?
For BlackBerry, the company has invested everything it has into the success of its new operating system – including its own name. Even if BB 10 is unsuccessful though, a lot of what it has been hard at work developing can actually stand quite well on its own. There are several things BlackBerry could do, in the event of a complete failure of BB 10, to stay alive and, maybe, just maybe, prosper in the years ahead. Here’s our advice to BlackBerry a year from now, if things go from bad to cataclysmic.
Shrink, and focus on what works
BlackBerry appears to think it’s Apple, and has been riding its entire future on BlackBerry 10 and BlackBerry 10 alone. While this could certainly bring forth success, it could also disastrously backfire and, much like Palm, cause BlackBerry to implode. While this is a worst case scenario, not everyone is convinced that BB 10 will be the savior it needs, so it may come to be that BlackBerry will have to shrink itself down to prevent bankruptcy. Shrinking may seem bad in the first place, but there are other companies that have shrunk themselves and had a rebirth in the past, so it doesn’t necessarily mean doom for the company.
What matters for BlackBerry is that it focuses on its most successful products and stop trying to reinvent the wheel with smartphones. If it can keep its most popular business products attractive to customers, as well as trim the fat, then it will have a unique foothold in the market for years to come.
Diversify and go cross-platform
BlackBerry’s philosophy has, for some time, been about being the all-in-one solution for its customers. With the growth of BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) though, this philosophy is now in question. To make matters worse, Samsung is laughing at Blackberry, and has it dead in its sights with its BYOD project called SAFE. If BlackBerry doesn’t shape up, then it will be forced to ship out.
For BlackBerry to survive the ongoing war over enterprise customers, it needs to diversify its assets and get them on the platforms that serve them best. While BlackBerry may not be in love with Android, it’s never too late to have a change of heart. Android, iOS, and even Windows Phone are all viable software platforms for many of BlackBerry’s products – especially BBM. BlackBerry has made managing Android and iOS devices possible through its Enterprise Server technology, but if BB10 fails, then BlackBerry should take all its software to other platforms, rather stay aboard a sinking ship. Doing this will give BlackBerry a chance to hold its ground against BYOD competitors. Kicking this idea up a notch, it could even offer a cloud environment users could access from anywhere to securely do business. BlackBerry is in a better position than anyone to launch secure, competitive cloud services.
Build a communication service like none other
BlackBerry’s technology may revolve around its enterprise servers for clients, but what’s stopping it from releasing the most robust and secure communication service ever?
While the market is already rife with communication and collaboration services, BlackBerry has a huge advantage between its mail technology, enterprise servers, and BBM. BBM is BlackBerry’s gem, and if the company can package it along with a suite of mail and other communication products, then you have a service that can attract companies of all shapes and sizes. While many companies already offer mail and messaging services, BlackBerry’s advantage here is brand recognition, and a long relationship with security. As a result, it wouldn’t be too crazy for the company to repackage these services into a product individuals and small companies could utilize directly from BlackBerry, much like Office 365 or similar cloud services.
License BB 10 and make friends
Perhaps the most radical thing BlackBerry could do in the wake of a lackluster launch of BB 10, is to make friends and license out the software. If the issues for BB 10 rest upon poor hardware, or a lack of exposure, then licensing could be the route Blackberry can take to successfully bring its OS to the next level. In fact, BlackBerry’s CEO claims he’s already considering it.
Licensing is no easy task, But if the reviews are as rave about BB 10 as they seem, then it might not hurt for BlackBerry to embrace the power of partnership. If a handful of the many dozens of manufacturers out there were to jump on board with BB 10, then BlackBerry could have the breathing room it’d need to continue developing its OS. For this to work though, it needs to have an OS that everyone truly loves.
Get carved up and sold off
In the end, whether or not BlackBerry likes it, a fate it may face, much like Palm and other companies, is being carved up for the taking. With several billion dollars in value – much of that value is in patents – BlackBerry could attract a variety of takers for its intellectual property and technologies. BlackBerry’s profile of products could even bring a lot of value to other enterprise-oriented firms, such as IBM. BlackBerry may not like being broken up (who does?), but the company’s many products and technologies hold a lot of value.
The end is never the end
Whether or not BB 10 succeeds, the fact remains that BlackBerry has a lot of options in the future behind its powerful assets. If BB 10 succeeds, the company can still expand its foothold across other platforms. If the company fails to get BB 10 off the ground though, there’s nothing wrong with any of these options depending on whatever direction the company takes next. Either way, BlackBerry’s betting the house on BlackBerry 10’s success, but if everything that could go wrong goes wrong, we still think BlackBerry still has a little fight left in it.