If one needs anymore indication that Blackberry is on the verge of death, there can be no greater indicator than this one: even when Blackberry offered their most popular service — the Blackberry Messenger — to everyone for free (both of iOS, Android and on their own platform), no one wanted to use it.
A source at Blackberry, speaking exclusively to The Michael Report, recently suggested that while the initial user adoption rate skyrocketed, it has since fell through below a level none of the Blackberry executives can fathom.
“[When] we launched it with the queue entry system, there was a genuine excitement within the division. People who still believed in Blackberry actually thought that if they could get enough people onto BBM, it could be Blackberry’s savior. I mean when BBM was exclusive to Blackberry, people would buy Blackberries just so they could use BBM. But wow. Not beyond my wildest dreams… could I imagine that no one wants to use Blackberry’s products. Even when given to them for free,” he said over a conversation on the phone with The Michael Report.
He would later attribute the mistake to Blackberry’s failure to see that people would much rather use something they already have — like Whatsapp, WeChat, etc. — instead of downloading a new app and starting all over again. “The stats did not seem to correlate with how we thought about ourselves. We thought our platform was superior. The stats disagreed,” he continued on. When asked if he thought that this Blackberry situation was representative of the Blackberry culture of complacency as a whole, his reply was clear — “Yeah, I guess.”
When BBM launched, there was a clear direction for the division involved: we would launch it on all the major platforms, have users use it for a while and once we’ve gotten them hooked, we’re going to introduce ads. Blackberry knew that the moment they released their app, user adoption would be high — simply because the app was already well-known beforehand. But what they could not foresee was just how quickly user adoption would drop off right after launch.
And now, they’re having trouble incorporating ads into BBM — no one wants to advertise on a platform that no one is using. Would the effort — the development process of incorporating ads into the app that no one is really using — be worth it for the team? Or could they spend their time better on other developments and just give up on BBM? That’s a question that’s currently being tackled, according to the source.
When asked what he sees the future of Blackberry to be, his reply was quick, indicative and concise — “bankruptcy… death.” He also indicated that he was leaving the company next quarter to avoid getting laid off even though he had been on the company for close to a decade now. “I rather leave,” he said, “then get kicked out of a company I used to believe so much in.”
So why don’t Blackberry mount a campaign to get users back on BBM so they can at least generate revenue from the ads? “We can’t even retain our best workers.” After a sigh, he continued, “What makes you think we’ve got money for an ad campaign?”
As the conversation came to a close, I asked him if he thought Blackberry trying to rescue the company was worth it or if it should’ve been acquired before it started hemorrhaging cash and talent.
“We tried, didn’t we?” he said, with the first laugh in the entire conversation.