Dearest BlackBerry,

by Mark Zaugg 21. September 2013 13:01

I'm up early, I'm in a thinking mode, I may as well blog.

And with yesterday's horrendous news about my beloved BlackBerry, I guess I better put in my two cents about the whole mess.

First off, and let me put is as bluntly as I can possibly put this, I am not giving up my BlackBerry any time soon.  I am not giving up on BlackBerry as a company, I am definitely not planning to go to any other phone.

Ah, misguided and blind loyalty, right?  Wrong.

So many have spoken of the arrogance of BlackBerry, the squandering of the lead in the smartphone market.  Well, yes, I completely agree they have suffered from horrible decisions.  But despite poor decision making along the way, they have produced an amazing phone that fits my needs wonderfully.  Every speck of arrogance attributed to BlackBerry is suffered in full by the market's new darling, the iPhone.  I like the iPhone.  It's kinda nice.  I have absolutely no desire to own one.  Apple scorns my desire of a physical keyboard.  Apple scoffs at my need to put calendaring first and foremost.  Apple does not care about my privacy.  Apple wants me to carry a charger with me at all times.

Arrogance isn't the whole story here.  The smart phone market has changed forever.  But the smart phone market has not stabilized and there is plenty of room for innovation.  And a physical keyboard and a removable battery.

So, with all my love, I pen this missive to BlackBerry.


Dearest BlackBerry,

I sometimes joke to my friend that I am pushing for him to run the company.  He does not yet realize I am absolutely not joking.  He may be technological and not have the ability to run a company of 7500, but he is one of the people that needs to drive the company from the inside.  He is the person that understands you need to make a seamless experience on a phone - not a cobbled together amalgamation of touch screens and shiny.  BlackBerry's leadership needs to listen a lot more to the rank and file who want to make great stuff.  (I know that's a nonsensical statement - all of #TeamBlackBerry wants to make good stuff, but there is a communication breakdown in there someplace.)

The thing that will save BlackBerry's bacon (if you'll pardon the mixed food metaphor) is a skunkworks project from within.  You've been creating your own Itanium for so long you've lost track of your own talent yearning to do better.  It doesn't matter if it's technically better if the bobble doesn't provide what you want in the long haul.  Intel was forced to turn it around by competition and they did it by redressing their CPU line through allegedly going back to a skunkworks project.  The most important thing for BlackBerry to start today is to find those projects and nurture the good ones.  Think of it as 20% time with 100% effort.

The irony is that you've created a really good, amazing phone.  It runs fast, it's ridiculously fast to type on, it's crazy fast (and fun) to flick around.  You need to leverage your strengths right now before processers ramp up and leaves this gem feeling sluggish.

Leveraging your strengths means start doing one thing right.  Do not fragment your ecosystem.  One operating system.  One phone -- okay, actually I'll make an exception and say two phones.  The Z10 form factor has to stay - I don't like pushing glass but I'm not the target market.  So a Z10 and a Q10 and everything into making them a great EXPERIENCE instead of just a great phone.  I'll give up on my beloved PlayBook, but I need my Q10.  I need my next generation Q10 to be even better than this one.

Your developer ecosystem has failed.  Accept it.  For three years I've been told I can download any app for my iPhone or Android.  That's not good enough.  You have to get sideloading easy and accessible to the masses now with a reasonable chance of making every app run seamlessly.  Hell, I haven't even sideloaded an app because it seems like a pain in the butt.

The great news is your developers on your platform are exceptional.  Blaq on my Q10 is now the primary way I interact on Twitter.  You have talent available.  Leverage it.

I get the notion of going with QNX, but it took far too long.  (There's enough material there for a whole new post!)  That's a problem of not listening to your engineers.  You got caught in a no-mans land between controlling a vertical stack of hardware and software and the commoditized, cheap platform that can sit on anyone's device.  That's a problem with not listening to your visionaries.  Opening the BBM ecosystem is a good start to leveraging your strengths.

And last, I heard the tripe about going back to business markets.  Stop being myopic idiots.  Your market was never business.  Your market was communicators.  Heavy communicators that need to stay in touch, stay organized, stay involved.  That market is huge, it overlaps a lot with business, but it is not business.  Deborah Yedlin calls her BlackBerry a tool and not a toy.  Start understanding just how important your role remains for those of us that must communicate.

My BlackBerry is irreplaceable.  Start communicating with us so we can get what we need from our phones.

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