BlackBerry Mobile was present at this year's Mobile World Congress, where a company executive proclaimed that the once-dominant brand is "here to stay."
BlackBerry Mobile is a unit of the Chinese consumer electronics manufacturer TCL, which holds the license to make BlackBerry smartphones. BlackBerry Ltd., the original Canadian company, has shifted its focus toward the corporate software and services business.
BlackBerry's Ambitious Goal
"We feel like it's mission accomplished," said BlackBerry Mobile's global general manager Francois Mahieu to journalists in a briefing before MWC 2018 started. That is not a statement that many would expect from BlackBerry Mobile a year after the launch of the BlackBerry KeyOne.
The BlackBerry KeyOne carried the herculean task of reviving the Blackberry brand. Mahieu proclaims that the device is present in most major markets and easily accessible worldwide, which is not bad for a smartphone with a physical keyboard that many view as an outdated feature.
However, market presence and market share are two totally different things. Even with the release of the BlackBerry Motion, which looks more like the traditional smartphone, BlackBerry only holds a market share of less than 1 percent among premium smartphones, which are defined as those with price tags of over $400. Mahieu understandably is not happy with that figure.
"It doesn't have to be a niche business," Mahieu said, referring to BlackBerry Mobile's products. "I would not be satisfied with market share in premium (phones) that is sub-1 percent forever," he added, saying that he hopes for BlackBerry Mobile to capture a premium smartphone market share of 3 percent to 5 percent over the next few years.
"That looks difficult for now," said Counterpoint Research analyst Neil Shah, as estimates peg the number of BlackBerry devices sold in the fourth quarter of 2017 to just 170,000 units. With a premium smartphone market of about 320 million units last year, this means that BlackBerry Mobile will need to sell at least 10 million units each year, or 2 million to 3 million units each quarter, to grab its target market share.
BlackBerry 'Here To Stay,' Says Exec
BlackBerry Mobile, however, knows that it will not be able to challenge the current leaders of the industry such as Apple and Samsung. Instead, the company is planning to take its time in building a stable business.
According to Mahieu, BlackBerry Mobile understands that it will take time to rebuild the iconic brand, and that its signature devices are not for everyone.
"We will be firmly staying in a premium category, innovating around keyboards, materials and areas to show people we're here to stay. It's a marathon, not a sprint," Mahieu said.