ChenOfDarkness

Chen Waves Goodbye to BlackBerry 10


As mentioned on many other websites, the end of BlackBerry 10 is finally more than just an inevitable possibility.  It is quickly on its way to becoming reality.

Now, the following is speculation.  There is always someone (and sometimes an entire website) that remain blind to the situation happening around them.  But BlackBerry has been in trouble for a very, very long time.

Is the speculation wrong?  Maybe, I hope so.  But I believe their handset division is more than just in trouble… because BlackBerry’s top executive has made it clear he has an end in sight for the platform.

No Longer Making BlackBerry 10 Phones

John Chen, and BlackBerry by extension, is now solely focused on Android.

John Chen said the company has stopped producing BlackBerry 10 smartphones.

This shouldn’t be too much of a surprise.  Chen laid off most of the remaining BlackBerry 10 developers (except for a rare handful) almost a full year ago, including their entire R&D team that made BlackBerry 10 prototypes. And he has been very vocal about the insistence of users focusing entirely on Android.

BlackBerry 10, to Get 2 Years of Support

In his latest interview with Gulf News, Chen stated:

We will support BB10 for minimum two more years as a lot of governments are using it, such as Canada, the U.S., Germany, and UK.

Most people aren’t aware, but when selling devices to various governments – part of that contract is a legal obligation to provide support (security, maintenance, updates, and often even specialized phone support) for a minimum period of 2 years.

The reason this is important, is this shows us that Chen has researched the minimum contractual obligations to his users.  Everything is cause and effect, and if a company is researching its contractual obligations, there is a financial reason they are seeking to take advantage of.  Now he did also go on to say:

At that point, BlackBerry will reassess the situation based on how secure its Android software has become

It will be interesting to see how they plan to meet this challenge after laying off the relevant teams, and allowing the platform and its related ecosystem to disintegrate so deeply.

Android Sales Insufficient

The sales of the PRIV were below target.  Far below target.  Maybe its the terrible name.  Maybe its the cheap plastic-y feeling.  Maybe it was the poorly thought out price tag.  Maybe it was the high-school quality, horror-esque marketing photos.  But they closed BlackBerry 10 for Android, and rolled the dice on the PRIV.

CEO John Chen told The Verge that his goal is to sell five million smartphones a year, which will be necessary to make the business profitable

In the PRIV’s first real quarterly earnings report, it was “part” of 650k units sold.  That means at best, they can hope to sell ~2.6 million units in a year.

The problem with this, is the natural tendency of purchasers.  Take a look at the Z10 for example, the first-to-market is typically the highest selling device for a manufacturer.  When the Z10 came out, it was strong, with almost 10 million units sold.  However, all subsequent devices have reduced in sales, in a large part due to the fact that the Z10 consumed their interested clientele and they had little reason to upgrade.

Chen is aware of this, the natural decline of the market.  He is banking on the fact that two lower cost Android devices “may” save the company and even recently reiterated his intent do so.  But even then, he has announced he is operating on the expectation that they may need to to shutdown the handset division after the next two Android devices are released.

BlackBerry 10 and Growing Loss of Major Applications

For quite some time now, Chen has announced repeatedly the continued support for BlackBerry 10.

From a lip service perspective, this is great, but we all know this isn’t the reality.  Critical base applications (such as Facebook and Whatsapp, with a shared user base of almost 2.5 billion users) are already no longer being supported on BlackBerry 10.  Lets repeat that statement, that is 2.5 billion users, that are no longer going to want to use BlackBerry 10 (as if selling users on BlackBerry 10 wasn’t hard enough).

Note that although WhatsApp states they will support BlackBerry 10 until the end of 2016, this is not true in practice.  In fact, Whatsapp have already pulled support and any attempts to contact them for help with BlackBerry 10 will be outright refused.

This is only the tip of the iceberg.  As most BlackBerry 10 users can tell you, the quality and stability of the ecosystem for applications has been slowly going downhill for a while.  Android applications still are not stable, and the number of offerings in BlackBerry World no longer functioning properly is growing every day.

Funding and Development

Most people don’t know this, but for a platform to be successful, they have to pay money.  A lot of money.  Over the last two years, BlackBerry has systematically stopped paying its partnership fees to many large companies including Qualcomm, Marmalade, Facebook, Adobe, Unity, PhoneGap, just to name a few.  The problem with this is simple… once funding stops, those companies do an analysis of the number of users and determine if they are likely to see a return on investment – and for BlackBerry 10, there is no incentive for them.  This is the main reason that a lot of large players and frameworks have begun to pull support for the platform.

In fact, BlackBerry even recently had issues paying 3rd party developers after a slew of system and performance issues prevented developers from even working on apps for the platform.

What About FileArchiveHaven?

Chen may have given up on BlackBerry 10, and the platform may be on its last breath – but we are one of the few teams crazy enough to continue on.  Follow us closely and you might just get your hands on a promo code for one of our several new BlackBerry 10 apps and games coming down the pipe this year!

Summary

No more BlackBerry 10 devices, 2 years life support remaining, 2.5 billion users ostracized, insufficient sales figures, and no incentives for growth.  It has been an amazing journey my friends – and as every day I chat with developers dropping off the platform, I thought it fitting to end the post with the following video.

In tribute of all the developers we’ve lost, and all the great users that have jumped platforms!

 

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