Struggling Canadian handset maker BlackBerry Ltd (NASDAQ:BBRY) is fighting tooth and nail to survive against dominant players like Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) and Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG) in the race for smartphone superiority.
BlackBerry has seen its market share erode significantly against the likes of Apple's iOS and Google's Android mobile operating systems over the last several years, so much so that the very future of the one-time market leader is now up in the air. Take a look at just how far BlackBerry has fallen compared to Google and Apple in the last two and a half years.
BlackBerry's smartphone market share has cratered a depressing 79% since the beginning of 2011, while Apple has seen marginal declines (but meaningful volume growth). After years of delay, BlackBerry's BB10 OS has floundered, while Google's Android has become the global norm for smartphone operating systems. Clearly, something just isn't working for BlackBerry.
A new approach Earlier this week, BlackBerry took to the pages of 30 leading publications across nine countries, using the space to proclaim it won't go gently into that good night. BlackBerry hopes that by circumventing its usual advertising mediums it will be able to directly connect with consumers defecting from the platform en masse.
The ads came in the form of an open letter to consumers from "The BlackBerry Team." The overriding message was that BlackBerry is planning on being around for the foreseeable future, so it's still safe for consumers to purchase BlackBerry's products versus Apple- or Google-powered devices. The letter opens with the following passage:
To our valued customers, partners and fans, You've no doubt seen the headlines about BlackBerry. You're probably wondering what they mean for you as one of the tens of millions of users who count on BlackBerry every single day. We have one important message for you: You can continue to count on BlackBerry.
The letter goes on to highlight BlackBerry's $2.6 billion net cash as well as its recent cost-cutting measures intended to reduce BlackBerry's cost structure by 50% in order to, as it phrases it, "run a very efficient, customer-oriented organization."
BlackBerry definitely makes a compelling case to consumers in the letter. The company highlights the platform's security and popularity with corporate customers, along with its growing presence in messaging with BBM. This is all well and good; the problem is that buying into BlackBerry's emotional appeal requires consumers and investors to overlook some very ugly truths, most notably that BlackBerry's opportunity to come back versus the effective mobile OS duopoly held by Apple and Google has likely already come and gone.
Don't be so sure Although it has plenty of cash to tide it over for the next several quarters at a minimum, there are ample reasons to still look at BlackBerry skeptically.