Stop Saying it’s Too Late for BlackBerry and Microsoft. It’s Too Early to be Too Late!
By: Hillel Fuld (@hilzfuld)
Please forgive me if this post comes off as a rant, but enough is enough. Every few months, a new handset/mobile platform comes out and the same claims are repeated by the pundits. “Too little, too late”. Apple and Google own the mobile market and that can’t change. And every time I read those words, I realize just how fast people forget.
“Google? Are you nuts entering search, a space completely dominated by Yahoo? It will never work!” “Wait, what is this, Facebook? You want to create a social platform to compete with MySpace? Yea, good luck with that!”. “Android? Sorry, iPhone already owns the smartphone space!” “iPhone? Sorry Nokia already owns the smartphone space. Or RIM. Or Palm. Or HP. Or Microsoft!”.
Yes, you see how dumb all those statements sound now? About as dumb as saying that six years after Jobs presented the first modern smartphone on stage and destroyed the paradigm of the need for physical keyboards and styluses, the industry is over and there is no more room for innovation. Complete and utter stupidity.
Take this post I wrote about BlackBerry 10 for example. Out of all the feedback I got on that post, close to 80% of it was along the lines of “Eh, it’s too late.” Now, I realize there is a problem with all the examples and comparisons I gave above because Google, Facebook, Android, and iOS were new players breaking into a market, not old players making a comeback like Microsoft and BlackBerry are. Having said that, I see that as something that is to the advantage of BlackBerry and Microsoft. They already have a large user base (Yes, BlackBerry still has 90 million subscribers. Let’s not forget that) and developer community, something all those companies lacked.
OK, so once I convince these skeptics that it is fact not too late, the next baseless claim they make is “OK, fine, it’s not too late but Microsoft/BlackBerry has nothing new here to help it stand out. If it wants to kill Apple/Google, it needs to bring more innovation to the table.”
Ahh, just what I needed, some more stupidity. Remind me again what world-changing technology Instagram has? Others before it had filters. It shares to Facebook and Twitter? Slow clap…
My point is, sometimes, it is not all about features, but about execution. If BlackBerry and/or Microsoft can release a mobile product that is polished and offers an experience as good as the other major players, there is no reason they can’t compete. Is there no room for more than 2 players in a market with billions of consumers? Who said you have to “Kill” anything in order to be relevant?
Now the question is do they? Do Microsoft and BlackBerry offer a solid enough product with enough polish to play ball in the major leagues? I will answer the question with a question. Have you ever tried the Lumia 920? Have you taken a picture with it? Have you tried the Z10? Felt the quality of the hardware? Yes, so you might want to try that before declaring the two companies dead in the mobile industry. They are not. These phones and the platforms they run on, are pretty fantastic.
“But look at WebOS. It was a good product and it died a long and painful death!” Yes, it did because it was thrown around between companies that had no idea what to do with it. Same goes for the latest company, LG. When it comes to Windows Phone and BlackBerry, I cannot guarantee that the platforms will succeed, but what I can say is that the two companies have learned from others’ mistakes and have their priorities straight.
Both Microsoft and BlackBerry, having spoken to top level execs at both companies, realize their 3rd party ecosystem is a top priority and one that is not where it needs to be. Both platforms lack the apps they need to achieve real traction and both companies are working to fix that, as we speak.
Bottom line, to say it is too late is to take a very limited view on this space that is still in its infancy. Besides, as consumers, we understand that more competition will only help drive innovation, so stop trying to suffocate it with declarations that iOS and Android have exclusive rights to the palm of our hands.
There, I feel much better now.