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It has been a tumultuous year for the BlackBerry brand. In a category that is driven more by design and user experience, BlackBerry is struggling to find a point of difference beyond security, BBM, and its physical QWERTY keyboards — none of which are capable of being secure, long-term advantages. A change of leadership early in the year provided hope that the company had found a new lease on life. New CEO Thorsten Heins’ decision to “stay the course,” however, illustrated a reluctance to take a risk on self-reinvention and transformation — traits that are essential for survival in today’s hyper-competitive consumer electronics market. As such, the brand remains locked in an identity crisis. Despite its longstanding association with the B2B market, customers are struggling to understand what BlackBerry stands for, just as its parent company struggles to do the same internally. The company is plagued with underwhelming product launches, undelivered promises (BlackBerry 10 has been delayed yet again, to 2013), and inconsistent marketing campaigns. Without having a clear core idea or platform upon which to build and rally behind, it is increasingly difficult to understand the company’s direction. BlackBerry shipments are down 41% in the past year, and market share now stands at 4.8% globally. In order to survive, the brand must demonstrate relevance in the crowded smartphone market. If BlackBerry can deliver a truly innovative experience designed for today’s mobile professional, it will send the message that the brand is committed to the B2B market that once made it such a success.
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