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Even with the right technology in BB10, solution providers say BlackBerry needs to do more to dig itself out of the hole.
David Felton, CEO and founder of Canaan Technology in Norwalk, Conn., believes BlackBerry needs to overhaul its branding and marketing to better compete with market leaders like Apple and Samsung. "BlackBerry is going to need to aggressively market the product by going head-to-head with the iPhone and Galaxy S III by appealing to consumers, not folks already sporting a BlackBerry under their suit jacket," Felton said.
Then there's the apps factor, which has hurt BlackBerry in the past. While the BlackBerry 10 launched with more than 70,000 apps, which the company said was the largest number of apps at launch for a first-generation OS, the platform is still missing some key applications and lags far behind incumbent platforms iOS and Android in sheer volume of apps available.
Robby Hill, president and CEO of HillSouth in Florence, S.C., thinks this could hurt BlackBerry, especially with the consumer market. "My biggest hope was that the company would wow us with a slew of apps that would make their smartphone get some much needed positive attention or praise," Hill said. "The new BlackBerry OS has some cool features like the unique virtual keyboard and the Timeshift camera, but without an overwhelming amount of apps, I'm worried that there won't be a huge demand for the new platform."
But others believe BlackBerry is making progress on the consumer front. "The ecosystem is what got BlackBerry behind," Tenet said. "They were going after the consumer market, but they didn't have the right mix of features and apps, but now they're getting there."
BlackBerry may have a couple of advantages to overcome the obstacles. First, BlackBerry's Enterprise Service 10 software allows solution providers to manage both BlackBerrys and iOS and Android devices. Hill said the software will help create an easier path for corporate adoption of BlackBerry 10, as interest in mobile device management platforms in the enterprise continues to grow.
"The one clear advantage for the enterprise adopters is the ability of BlackBerry's software to manage non-BlackBerry mobile devices," Hill said. "This really softens the blow of making your best corporate clients upgrade to a new mobile device management software platform to use BlackBerry 10 in their businesses."
A second advantage is BlackBerry's partner base; just as it has a core of loyal "Crackberry" users, the smartphone maker also has a cadre of dedicated solution providers that BlackBerry can lean on to promote BlackBerry Enterprise Service 10 as well as develop a strong application ecosystem.
"BlackBerry has always been great to the channel and really supported partners," Kantorowitz said. "Apple has been the opposite, and I think that'll help BlackBerry in the long run."