Kevin O'Leary is arguably the star of Shark Tank. Although he sits beside some of the world's greatest entrepreneurs, including Mavericks head honcho Mark Cuban and licensing guru Damon Dash, he receives top billing on the show and sits in the coveted center seat. Known ironically as "Mr. Wonderful" due to the harsh perpetual royalty deals he offers the shows budding businesspeople, O'Leary's strong and critical but always clever reactions to many of the products and ideas he is presented weekly on the show have made him a clear fan favorite.
O'Leary knows a thing or two about technology, having made his fortune by selling his self-started software company for a whopping $3.2 billion to Mattel. Two years ago, O'Leary made news when he announced that he had dumped his Apple iPhone for a BlackBerry Z10. The new device was heralded by many as the savior for the struggling handset manufacturer, and Mr. Wonderful jumped on board, calling its on-screen keyboard the best technology available in a smartphone at the time.
Two years later, O'Leary isn't very high on BlackBerry's future prospects. He cites low market share as a serious concern, explaining that "If you can't garner a 5 percent market share globally, you probably don't have a long-term prognosis that's good, and you're going to eventually have to sell to somebody else." Right now BlackBerry has a miniscule 0.4 percent share of the global smartphone market, with no real expectations of imminent growth on the horizon, according to O'Leary: "I don't think they're getting the traction we all hoped for with products like the Classic, the Passport...I just don't see them in the U.S. anywhere anymore."
Another problem cited by O'Leary is the lack of awareness and familiarity with the company's devices among the sales people for the carriers that offer them. "That whole generation of sales people doesn't know what BlackBerry is," the entrepreneur points out.
While BlackBerry has announced a shift in focus to enterprise software, it only accounts for about 10 percent of the company's revenue, and Morgan Stanley has recently rated its shares as "underperformer." "I'm trying to say something nice, because I'm that kind of a guy, but it's really getting hard." concludes O'Leary, who, if he really thinks he's that kind of guy, needs to rewatch some episodes of Shark Tank, where he regularly utters the phrase "you're dead to me" as he shows the door to contestants who reject his famously bloodsucking offers.