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Blackberry SWOT

960 words 4 page(s)

Strengths: One of the company’s strengths is its brand name. Blackberry has high brand recognition rate, especially among corporate clients as Blackberry was once the preferred choice of smart phone brand in Corporate America as well as many other countries. Blackberry’s strengths also include its corporate enterprise system. Even when the company’s products were being overtaken by Apple’s iPhone, the perception among business professionals was that Blackberry is for professional tasks and iPhone is for entertainment (Gillette, Brady and Winter).

Blackberry’s strengths also include its business model which now primarily focuses on software and services as opposed to hardware (The New York Times). It appears the company is going back to its roots and focusing on its core competencies. It is a good move because software and services offer greater potential for differentiation than hardware and in addition, profit margins on software and services also tend to be high.

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One of the company’s strengths is its supply chain network which includes partners like Foxconn, also a supplier to Apple. Suppliers like Foxconn do not only enable the company to reduce hardware costs but also help it enter emerging economies like Indonesia where most of the growth potential exists.

Weaknesses: One of Blackberry’s weaknesses is its organizational culture that failed to adapt to changes in the external environment and became too complacent. Another company’s weakness is its leadership, both past and current. Past leadership is responsible for the company’s decline from being a leader in the smartphone market to an also-ran. Some analysts even predict the company will go out of business in the near future (Reisinger). Even current leadership has failed to reverse Blackberry’s fortune and has not done a good job of developing an effective competitive strategy (Healey). After failed strategy of targeting consumers last year, the leadership has now decided to focus on corporate clients (Reisinger). Whether this strategy succeeds is still to be seen.

Blackberry’s weaknesses also include its marketing department which has done a poor job of understanding clients’ needs and has also missed valuable marketing opportunities. One such opportunity was to partner with Canadian music sensation Justin Bieber at quite a reasonable cost but the company’s marketing department passed the sponsorship offer from the singer (Gillette, Brady and Winter).

Opportunities: One of the opportunities lie in targeting customers who prefer QWERTY physical keyboard on smart phones (Reisinger) as opposed to touch screen keyboard that has now become the standard in the industry. Another opportunity for the company lies in targeting corporate customers for whom security is one of the most important features in a smartphone operating system. Blackberry can leverage its past as it was once the preferred smartphone brand due to its secure operating system. In addition, the company can also tout the fact that its containerization solution for iOS and Android devices called Secure WorkSpace has received Security Technical Implementation Guide approval from the U.S. Defense Information Systems Agency (Solomon). This means the company also has an opportunity to target federal and state governments in both the U.S. and abroad.

Another opportunity for Blackberry lies in targeting the rich and the affluent (N4BB) who desire to distinguish themselves from the crowd. There are several benefits of this approach. First of all, no other smartphone manufacturer has created a specialized product for the rich and the affluent except Nokia’s subsidiary Vertu, thus, the competition in this market will be low. Another benefit of this strategy will be high profit margins because high income groups tend to be less price-sensitive as compared to middle and low income groups.

Growth opportunities for Blackberry also lie in emerging economies like India and China. Just as Blackberry has targeted Indonesia with an affordable product (The New York Times), the company could create affordable models specifically aimed at India and China if it has not done so already. Growth opportunities in developed markets like U.S. are limited even for market leaders like Apple. Thus, Blackberry has a valuable opportunity to develop a strong competitive position in emerging markets with tremendous growth potential.

Threats: The smart phone market is intensely competitive and includes players with vast resources such as Apple and Samsung. If Blackberry mounts a successful comeback, it is highly likely that existing market leaders will fight back aggressively and may even turn Blackberry gains into temporary ones. Another threat to Blackberry is lack of employee commitment which may make it difficult for the management to carry out its vision. Blackberry’s current management has made a series of serious mistakes that forced to company to layoff a significant number of employees (Healey). It is reasonable to assume that layoffs have negatively affected the morale of remaining workforce.

The threat to Blackberry also stems from lack of clear vision. Blackberry experimented with consumer markets last year which failed and is now focusing on business customers primarily (Healey). The management conduct over the last few years gives the impression the company is experimenting with different strategies to determine which may work even if the management may claim now their primary focus is businesses and governments. The current strategy may or may not succeed because the company has yet to turn a profit though losses have narrowed down (The New York Times).

    References
  • Gillette, Felix, Diane Brady and Caroline Winter. The Rise and Fall of BlackBerry: An Oral History. 5 December 2013. 7 September 2014 .
  • Healey, Meredith. BlackBerry CEO John Chen: We have an 80% chance of survival. 29 May 2014. 7 September 2014 .
  • N4BB. BlackBerry’s 2014 Global Roadmap – Affordable, Classic, Innovative, Prestige. 25 August 2014. 7 September 2014 .
  • Reisinger, Don. BlackBerry product roadmap points to smartphone bonanza. 26 August 2014. 7 September 2014 .
  • Solomon, Howard. BlackBerry layoffs are over, says Chen. 5 August 2014. 7 September 2014 .
  • The New York Times. BlackBerry. 7 September 2014 .