NETWORK operators are making contingency plans in the face of growing concern from their corporate customers at the uncertain future of BlackBerry.
As the troubled Canadian manufacturer continues its hunt for a buyer, which could eventually see the company broken up, Mobile has learnt that UK operators have approached other manufacturers asking them to put together alternative strategies they can present to corporate customers wishing to migrate from BlackBerry.
The news comes as BlackBerry, which posted a quarterly loss of almost $1bn last month, wrote off $934m after poor sales of its fl agship Z10 smartphone. The firm sent an open letter to its customers this week, pleading with them to stay loyal.
Meanwhile, rival manufacturers continue to ramp up their assault on the b2b market with Nokia, Samsung and Sony all aggressively targeting the sector.
One operator told Mobile that BlackBerry clients had been approaching its b2b division anxious about what will happen to their contract deals in the event of a sale or break up. He added that, although the operator is confident that any break-up would not necessarily impact on customers, it had put in place a strategy to reassure clients which included the ability to offer alternatives from other manufacturers.
A BlackBerry spokesman said: ‘The company’s strategy is not changing – BlackBerry will continue to execute on its plans of driving adoption of BlackBerry 10 smartphones, rolling out its cross-platform BBM social messaging service, and pursuing mobile computing opportunities by leveraging the secure and reliable BlackBerry Global Data Network. We will also continue to drive BES 10 installations and the BlackBerry 10 application ecosystem.’
Industry analysts said BlackBerry’s open letter and the continuing confusion surrounding the nature of BlackBerry’s sale will only serve to add momentum to falling confi dence in the brand.
Francisco Jeronimo, IDC’s mobile devices research manager said: ‘It is not surprising operators are looking at a fall-back plan. BlackBerry is making mistake after mistake. Its open letter only confirms to everyone that it is in serious trouble and not surprisingly clients are trying to fi nd a solution in case it disappears altogether. It is difficult to predict what will happen and if it is broken up it is very difficult to understand how the different parts will work together.’
Jeronimo said Nokia, Apple and Samsung are all well placed to benefi t from BlackBerry’s unpredictable position. He said ‘Nokia will be able to take advantage of the corporate market with its wider portfolio of mid to high end devices, which are suitable for large mobile contracts, whilst Apple and Samsung’s more expensive smartphones can take advantage of smaller SME contracts requiring just a handful of devices.’