BlackBerry shipments tumble again

When John Chen took over as head of BlackBerry he knew he was going to run a troubled business.

How troubled was revealed this week in quarterly numbers from IDC showing the Canadian smart phone maker’s global share has dropped to 1.9 per cent during the period.

It was the only operating system to see a drop not only quarter to quarter but year to year. “Moreover, its legacy BB7 outpaced BB10 towards the end of the year, definitely not the results that the company had hoped for when it released BB10 in January. With new leadership, management, and a tighter focus on the enterprise market, BlackBerry may in a better position, but still finds itself having to evangelize the new platform to its user base.”

BlackBerry will report its latest quarterly financial results March 28. Whether Chen waits until then to release a detailed strategy for the future remains to be seen.

However, this week it was reported that Andrew Bocking, the head of its BlackBerry Messenger service (BBM) division, has left the company, the latest of several executives to depart.

That came as BlackBerry [TSX: BB] announced this week that BBM is now available for Android and iPhone devices, giving owners of those units the ability to make free voice calls to BBM subscribers via BBM Voice. They also can access BBM Channels.

IDC reported that Android and iOS devices accounted for 95.7 per cent of all smartphones shipped in the fourth quarter of 2013, and 93.8 per cent for the calendar year.

“What stands out are the different routes Android and Apple took to meet this demand,”  wrote Ramon Llamas, research manager for IDC’s mobile phone team. “Android relied on its long list of OEM partners, a broad and deep collection of devices, and price points that appealed to nearly every market segment. Apple’s iOS, on the other hand, relied on nearly the opposite approach: a limited selection of Apple-only devices, whose prices trended higher than most. Despite these differences, both platforms found a warm reception to their respective user experiences and selection of mobile applications.”

Windows Phone posted the largest increase for both the quarter and year, nearly doubling the growth of the overall market. It moved into third place with 3.3 per cent of the global market. The overwhelming number of these handsets were made by Nokia, which Microsoft is in the process of acquiring.

IDC also noted that last year the sub-$200 smart phone market grew to 42.6 per cent of all sales

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Howard Solomon
Howard Solomon
Currently a freelance writer, I'm the former editor of and Computing Canada. An IT journalist since 1997, I've written for several of ITWC's sister publications including and Computer Dealer News. Before that I was a staff reporter at the Calgary Herald and the Brampton (Ont.) Daily Times. I can be reached at hsolomon [@]

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