Like a boyfriend who was caught smooching some floozy, Research In Motion Ltd (NASDAQ:BBRY) is back asking for a second chance. It’s all spruced up, hair cut short and asking the market to take it seriously. It’s changed and it’s ready to commit. Now, the company says, you just need to give it a chance to prove itself all over again.
Or at least, that’s how I take it. In an article recently, Chief Marketing Officer Frank Boulben says that the company is ready to re-enter the market and grow. It just needs that second chance that so many things depend upon. Boulben has reasonably set the company’s sights on becoming the third most popular maker of smartphones in the world. I like that part, because no one’s going to knock off Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd. (KRX:005935) and Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) anytime soon.
The simple fact is that this might be BlackBerry’s last chance to move in the market. The firm was – at one point – so popular that a businessman appeared undressed without a Research In Motion Ltd (NASDAQ:BBRY) in hand. Even candidate Barack Obama was so in love with his BlackBerry that when he was elected he had to have one made with special features so that, as president, he could continue to use one while adhering to the government’s information retention laws. A company can’t get a better endorsement than that.
Still, it fell apart. Smartphones went in a different direction and devices using Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG)’s Android system and Apple’s iPhone ended up dominating the market. The new BlackBerry Z10 is ready to go and the first ones could be in user’s hands by the end of the week. Judging by what I’ve read it’s a good platform to work on. That doesn’t mean it’ll be an easy task to gain market share, though.
Still, BlackBerry is exceedingly investment-worthy, if not for the most conservative investor. Competing with a quality innovator like Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG) is challenging. However, BlackBerry has the advantage of being only focused on one aspect of the market while at times Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG) seems to have trouble focusing on one thing at a time. That may give BlackBerry a chance to make some moves.
Ditto, Apple. While Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) is a monster of a company for Research In Motion Ltd (NASDAQ:BBRY) to challenge, the company’s focus on consumer electronics – read that: people who want to play – instead of the traditional business user makes it a bit vulnerable to a business-oriented approach. Not that a move like that will truly challenge the iPhone, but it might move some units away from the platform-of-cool that Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) has become.
No, the real competition here is for the business user. Those busy multi-taskers that one sees on the subway obsessively checking their devices and twitching nervously when the red light starts blinking. There’s a reason people used to call them ‘Crackberries,’ after all. The use of the older BlackBerry became a matter of compulsion for many business users. That’s the sort of devotion the firm needs to re-establish.
Which brings us to the other firm that’s going to try to target the business community. Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT) has a long history of gaining market dominance through leveraging the business world. Heck, anyone who has worked in an office over the last 30 years or so has worked on Windows and therefore Microsoft’s products. That, in turn, led to the establishment of Windows as the dominant operating system in home PCs as well. It’s a proven strategy for the firm.
Now, with a new partnership forged with another once-dominant smartphone maker, Nokia Corporation (ADR) (NYSE:NOK) the company has decided that the target of opportunity is forcing BlackBerry out of the market. I honestly, don’t know if that can be done. But, maybe it can.
Look, Microsoft will never EVER be considered a ‘cool’ company. The image over there is more nerds in suits than cool guys having fun with technology. But Microsoft seems comfortable with that and the company has grown in solid ways that have rewarded investors and employes. God knows it has the muscle and cash to make things happen.
But not always with hardware. The Windows Phone is still in its true infancy and certainly the Zune crashed. Even the Surface tablet is only beginning to gain some velocity. Only in the Xbox game console has Microsoft really knocked it out of the part with a piece of hardware and that’s not even selling to their core business-user type.
So it’s down to BlackBerry and Microsoft/Nokia for third place in this next round of the smartphone competition. I’m going with a pick that surprised even me: I think BlackBerry will be able to pull it off and become a solid third in the market, passing Microsoft’s efforts to drive it out. The Z10 looks good (though it needs a better set of available apps to buy) and the response to the launch is positive. I think that, within two years, BlackBerry will leverage their old addicted users to become the top smartphone maker that’s not the big two. There are worse places for a firm that was given up for dead.
That makes BlackBerry a true investing opportunity in the smartphone and technology market. I wouldn’t put conservative money into it, mind you. However, any investment capital you have that isn’t exclusively devoted to generating income can be placed into BlackBerry. Whether it’s risky money or simply growth-and-income money, there are much worse places you could invest than Research In Motion Ltd (NASDAQ:BBRY).
The article BlackBerry Fighting for Its Second Chance originally appeared on Fool.com and is written by Nate Wooley.
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