While many SME owners may fondly remember the heydey of Blackberry phones, recent research reveals the company’s days of being a major player in the mobile market are well and truly over, as the business pivots towards other areas.
A report about global smartphone markets from technology research company Gartner reveals the number of phones running Blackberry’s operating system is now at 0.048%. This equates to about 270,000 handsets worldwide.
The report data spans the fourth quarter of 2016, in which over 431 million smartphones were sold. Out of those, 317 million ran Google’s Android operating system, and 77 million ran Apple’s iOS system.
Blackberry’s smartphone downfall comes as no surprise, however, as the BBC reports the company announced last September it would no longer design smartphones in-house. Gartner’s data from the last quarter of 2015 shows Blackberry devices had just 0.2% of the smartphone market.
A change in focus
Blackberry’s downturn in its smartphone sector has previously been attributed to the company being unable to keep up with the popularity of other brands, including Apple’s iPhone, during the late 2000s, but in recent years the company has switched its focus to software, not hardware.
Foad Fadaghi, principal analyst at technology insights company Telsyte, told SmartCompany Blackberry is on a “long journey to becoming a software company”.
“They flagged themselves as wanting to exit the smartphone market a while ago, it’s not the largest part of their business anymore,” Fadaghi says.
“Businesses transform, technology changes, and companies move along with that.”
Fadaghi notes Blackberry has shifted to an enterprise software focus, working on mobile enterprise management software for larger businesses.
“They were one of the first companies in that space, but it’s a difficult marketplace they’re in,” he says.
“It presents some challenges but it’s easier than the smartphone market.”
Despite this, the company hasn’t exited the mobile market entirely, having announced a Blackberry-branded phone called Blackberry Mercury will be unveiled at the Mobile World Congress later this month. The phone will carry the Blackberry name but will be manufactured by Chinese electronics company TCL, who holds a global licensing deal with Blackberry.
Fadaghi believes this is so the company can maintain a brand presence within the market it was once so dominant in.
“There’s always a business legacy, but it’s clear phones are not a massive part of their marketing right now,” he says.
SmartCompany contacted Blackberry Australia for comment but did not receive this prior to publication.