BlackBerry Ltd (NASDAQ:BBRY)’s BB10 launch has been disappointing. Last quarter, the company moved only 2.7 million BB10 handsets which was well below Wall Street’s conservative expectations. Now many analysts are wondering if the company even has a future in mobile devices.
Could BlackBerry Ltd (NASDAQ:BBRY) survive without its hardware business? It’s a long shot – but it’s possible. Here’re three ways the company could reemerge if BB10 is a failure.
Could BlackBerry Messenger, or BBM, become the next Skype? According to ACI Research analyst Ed Zabitsky, that’s not that far fetched. He’s bullish on the company’s prospects of becoming a cross platform web services company delivering voice, video, and texting.
Is that possible? Zabitsky points to the potential decline of Skype. Since Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT) purchased the VoIP service for $8.5 billion in 2011, the company hasn’t done much to cement its carrier relationships. This leaves the door open for BBM.
BBM currently has 66 million active users but there’s incredible demand for the popular service elsewhere. In June a fake BBM application appeared in the Google Play store and garnered 100,000 downloads within 36 hours. Notably, that was with no advertisements or announcements. That shows there’s big demand for BBM among Android users.
BlackBerry Ltd (NASDAQ:BBRY) could monetize the free service through advertisements. The company is experimenting with a new service called BBM Channels which allows companies to connect with their customers and users to follow brands they like. BlackBerry wants to line your BBM message feed with advertisements akin to Twitter or Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) . While the service is still in beta testing, several high profile names have already partnered with BlackBerry Ltd (NASDAQ:BBRY) including the Goo Goo Dolls, Alicia Keys, and Mercedes Benz.
Could BBM represent a credible threat to Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB)? That’s unlikely at this point. Facebook benefits from the network effect with 1.1 billion users worldwide. That’s where advertisers are more likely to send their ad dollars unless BBM can grow in size quickly. But this service could become a mobile competitor that Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) shareholders should keep their eyes on.
Mobile Device Management
Blackberry has always offered businesses the service of managing their network of BlackBerry Ltd (NASDAQ:BBRY) phones. However, the latest generation of the company’s enterprise services will allow businesses to manage all of their operating systems under one roof. The move is in response to the growing Bring-Your-Own-Device, or BYOD, trend that’s taking over corporations.
Multi-platform services aren’t revolutionary. Other companies offer the same product. But BlackBerry can tout its reputation for security as the main differentiator from the competition. Blackberry is already well positioned in the space. The company’s enterprise service product, BES10, is already installed in 65% of Fortune 500 companies.