BlackBerry enters Indian Android market with Priv
BlackBerry has launched its first Android smartphone, Priv in the Indian market. The 4G, Android Lollipop OS, 5.4" WQHD screen phone will be priced at Rs.62,999/- and will be available from 30 Jan. The sliding keypad and the additional security features provides users the BlackBerry experience. However, experts feel that the phone may be 5 years too late and may not help revive BlackBerry.
BlackBerry founded in 1984, initially called Research in Motion (RIM), is a Canadian company. In 1996, co-CEOs were Mike Lazaridis and Jim Balsillie. It accelerated to power by making "intelligent, two-way pagers," that would give users "access to email on the go", enabling them to send and get emails everywhere. RIM's groundbreaking technology made it a must have; thereby, driving investment into the company.
In 1998, the first BlackBerry, which was a "wireless handheld computer" was launched. The company signed deals with many companies such as BellSouth Wireless, IBM and Rogers Cantel, and agreed to provide wireless service. BlackBerry allowed two way paging, basic email and a six-line display. Users were given the option to browse specially formatted pages offering news, weather and stock market data.
By 2003, BlackBerry was the most sought after device in the market. It became the favorite of millions and was termed "reliable, operated on a secure network, could be managed en-masse" by a business's IT department and provided an excellent battery life. In 2004, Research in Motion celebrated its 20th anniversary and the BlackBerry subscriber count surpassed one million worldwide.
In January 2007, the first-generation iPhone was unveiled and it was launched in the market the same year. iPhone was the anti-BlackBerry - "a touchscreen in place of the iconic physical keyboard/trackball combo, a fun, colourful interface aimed at consumers rather than business users". In 2008, BlackBerry launched the Storm, its very first touchscreen to challenge Apple. However, it failed to make a difference.
The BlackBerry Storm was a debacle and proved to be a huge flop. BlackBerry had to replace the first million devices entirely at RIM's expense.
By 2011, RIM had to sack 2,000 people, more than 10% of its workforce. BlackBerry 7 models fared poorly because of the early announcement in the market about BlackBerry10. Pressure increased on the company to revamp its management structure from activist shareholders. In 2012, the co-CEOs of RIM, Jim Balsillie and Mike Lazaridis stepped down adding to the problems of the company.
Though popularly known as BlackBerry, it was not till 2013 that RIM officially announced that it was changing its name to BlackBerry.
On 23 September 2013, Fairfax Financial offered $4.7 billion for BlackBerry buyout. BlackBerry agreed to be acquired in principle. By November, the deal was put on hold but Fairfax Financial agreed to invest in BlackBerry restructuring. On 20 December 2013, BlackBerry declared a shocking $4.4 billion loss in its 3rd quarter, and this came with sacking of as many as 4500 of its employees.
Blackberry's India operation are seeing a stagnation with one-fourth of its staff having resigned. From 70 people working for the Canadian handset maker in India in 2014, it has now fallen to 15, with most of its senior management having quit. BlackBerry's Head of India Operations- Sunil Lalvani, Head of Product Management- Advait Vaidya and Manoj Khilani, Head of Enterprise Marketing have all quit.
BlackBerry has consistently lost its market share to Samsung's Android phones and Apple's iPhones. With Priv as its 1st secure Android smartphone, its aims to regain the lost ground in the Indian market.