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Blackberry's quarterly conference call took place on Friday. I will try to avoid adjectives such as train wreck, or disasterous. But it is difficult to report on it without at least using the word, predictable. On paper, they lost $4.4B. That's more money than they have. Accounting is a funny business. My undestanding of it is that much of that is a non-writedown writedown of unsold inventory, literally, worth nothing. Every phone they build is a liability to the company. Now, they would like to bring that worthless experience to iOS and Android. You can here John Chen: Blackberry CEO, say it in his own words:

My impression of these comments is that they were made with enterprise services in mind. That still does not reduce the amount of crazy in the comment. Chen specifically called out security and productivity as Blackberry's one advantage. While the same cannot be said for Android, Apple has had no problem getting the iPhone into enterprise settings, and has never had a security breach. It is well-known that Blackberry's Messenger has been compromised by governments, all we know about iMessage is that the NSA has said that they can't crack it. I think the iPhone is doing just fine in terms of security without Blackberry's help.

The same is doubly true when it comes to productivity. Honestly, I have no idea what productivity even means when it comes to smartphones. It is nothing more than a buzzword intended to imply an undefined, competitive advantage when real advantages are absent. No one is writing a novel, financial report, or spread sheet on a Blackberry. You might look at one and make corrections here and there, but fully compose them, never! 

When I question Blackberry fans about what productivity means to them, it always just comes down to push email and text messaging. iOS has offered native, push email from day one. Not only does iOS have a native, instant message client, it is free to use all over the world via wifi. You can send messages to groups with send/receive receipts. I have watched every Blackberry commercial available on the internet, whether or not they have aired on TV anywhere in the world. They have never shown a productivity feature that is unavailable on every other platform. Again, Blackberry has nothing to offer iPhone users by way of productivity.

Perhaps Mr. Chen was referring to some other aspect of the Blackberry experience. Perhaps he wants to share the famous, Blackberry keyboard. An external, Blackberry keyboard might be an interesting accessory for the iPhone. But what would Chen want to give iPhone users yet another reason for not buying a Blackberry? Also, are we talking about the same Blackberry keyboard that Blackberry users are leaving, and replacing with keyboardless iPhones? I fail to see the advantage to this arrangement, for anybody.

There lies the problem with anything you can imagine. Taking Chen's statement seriously is an exercise in frustration. There is no business case to be made for porting the Blackberry experience to any other platform. They recently released BBM: a messaging app, to iOS and Android. Big deal! Both platforms were just fine without still another instant message platform. Blackberry makes no money out of the deal. iOS is still the messaging app of choice for iPhone and iPad users. WhatsApp is probably the biggest platform in the world. And cross-platform BBM has no chance of ever changing either of those facts. As BBM is the best part of the Blackberry experience, it just goes downhill from there.

Personally, after following Blackberry very closely for the past several years, I don't think Chen's comment means anything at all. It provides a morsel of red meat for beleaguered, Blackberry fans who, just a couple of days ago, were unsure if the company would continue to make hardware. This is not Blackberry making a serious, competitive statement about iOS or Android. This is them trying their best to convince their fan-base that they have a pulse. Porting the Blackberry experience to the iPhone is not a plan; it is a desperate attempt to draw another breath. For Blackberry, another breath is a commodity in limited supply.

David Johnson

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