Editorial by Luke Jones on Monday July 28, 2014.
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The trying times over at Blackberry mean that even the smallest good news is worthy of interest, but it always comes with a proverbial pinch of salt. For example, the company's shares rose by 5% last week on the back of news that the brand would seek an Apple/IBM type partnership. However, a closer look at Blackberry's situation makes for worrying reading if you are a fan of QWERTY packing smartphones.Sure, it is good that even the hint of a business deal could raise shares by 5%, but the truth is Blackberry has offered nothing concrete. It is also clear that the company does not have the bargaining clout to reach the kind of deal Apple did with IBM last week, a partnership that could spell all kinds of trouble for Blackberry. The company is forging ahead with the obvious intention of making enterprise its core business, an Apple/IBM shaped opponent could scupper those plans in the long term. Devices are a no go for the company too. Sure, Blackberry can use comments on tech websites to big up its latest Passport square smartphone, but the truth is at best the handset has been met with a shrug of the shoulders, and at worst a chuckle and derision. There simply is no magical smartphone on the horizon that would right the wrongs of the company and make it a hardware player once again. Even Blackberry's few remaining strongholds in Asia will come under fire soon. The company's more affordable smartphones are still popular in countries such as Malaysia and Indonesia, but Chinese companies like Xiaomi and ZTE are now targeting those regions for big expansion. Although the writing is not on the wall for Blackberry in those markets, it is hard to see how the Canadian company can compete with the Chinese juggernauts. Another problem for the company is that its services are losing traction in key (read money making) markets such as Europe and the US. When BBM (Blackberry Messenger) was released to Android and iOS last year it caused some serious buzz and was seen as a possible open door for the company to find success again. After millions of initial downloads and plenty of heat for months after launch, BBM is failing and is way down the charts for most downloaded apps on both rival platforms (lower than 700 in the US for iOS). It could be argued that BBM was never going to compete against messaging giants like WhatsApp and Facebook, but the fact the service is even lagging behind second tier offerings like Viber and Kik tells its own story. Again, BBM is enjoying some popularity in African and Asian markets, but all that can do is prop Blackberry up and do little more.
Luke Jones is the Managing Editor at MobileBurn.com and is the person you need to speak to about the content on the site. Luke studied creative writing at Glamorgan University before carving out a reputation as a freelance tech writer. He settled here at MobileBurn, where he reviews devices and contributes to the news.