With some fanfare, Blackberry has rolled out its Passport; but it isn’t the phone that is really catching people’s attention. It’s the statement they are making about their priorities with the release of the phone. The Passport may allow them to return to viability as one of the top business service providers. It features everything you expect, but it also has a keyboard and touch screen option that works due to the increased size of the screen. More importantly, Blackberry is announcing that it is refocusing its efforts back on the institutional markets – such as healthcare and financial industries – that made it a leader in the first place.
Why are they clinging to that keyboard?
The keyboard is what differentiates the Blackberry as a business phone. Business users need the speed and accuracy of a separate keyboard that cannot be replicated with a touchscreen keyboard. By integrating it into the Passport, Blackberry is showing who they are serving. This isn’t a phone to listen to music on; this is a phone to make working more efficient. Blackberry, like its old competitor Palm, catered to the very specific needs of business industries that made phones as portable PCs more important than phones as communication devices. They have returned to their roots with this, and their target marketing.
Returning to institutional roots
Blackberry did try to branch out into the retail consumer market, but they just don’t have the type of technology that is suited for the casual user. They have long been paired with major institutions and helped them to create mobile gateways to keep staff connected to services while off site. Trying to transition to a demographic that only needed to stay connected to their Facebook just didn’t mesh well with their overall architecture.
Can Blackberry make it?
Blackberry does stand to reclaim a share of the service industry market due to its history of working with institutions, and its willingness to create proprietary applications on its platform. As long as they put security first, they could have a winner with the new Passport. It has a full QWERTY and a touchscreen that is wide enough to allow you to view documents. There is no other phone on the market that offers this. By returning their focus to industrial customers, they stand to rebuild themselves into a stable and innovative company again.