BlackBerry today announced a promotion in which iPhone users could trade in their device and get up to $400 plus as much as $150 from the company to put towards a new BlackBerry Passport.
The offer is good til February and only for an unlocked BlackBerry Passport purchased through BlackBerry’s website or through Amazon. Also, would-be BlackBerry enthusiasts outside of North America are out of luck: the deal is only good here.
So, does this brash move mean BlackBerry is back and ready to challenge Apple and Samsung for mobile device dominance? In a word, no. But the swap strategy is important as a symbol that BlackBerry is feeling its oats again. The increasing confidence the company shows with this move is clearly a reflection of its new leader, John Chen. Recall that Chen, it the early days of his tenure was a model of caution, famously estimating that BlackBerry’s chances of success were “50/50”.
Since then, to quote a certain Bob Dylan song from a certain car commercial, “things have changed”.
Turns out Chen’s autopsy of the BlackBerry corpse revealed that the patient was still breathing. Now the company is back to walking and talking, and the words it is speaking lately are decidedly not those one would associate with a timid client on the mend.
“I’m going to end their party”, said Chen of his critics at an event in San Francisco earlier this month in which BlackBerry announced new partnerships with Salesforce and Samsung. Chen said under his watch, the days of BlackBerry being a punchline are over.
“They’re going to have to work for their living rather than just having fun on us,” he said.
It’s important to separate the idea of BlackBerry surviving and rehiring and possibly turning a profit again, which the company says it soon expects to do, from becoming a brand that challenges the likes of Apple and Samsung in the consumer mobile device space. The former is looking increasingly likely. The latter is still improbable. BlackBerry’s market share is still less than 1% globally and launching a challenge in the broader consumer market would almost certainty be a mistake. But Chen has proven a more than worthy tactician in terms of leveraging BlackBerry’s strengths to appeal to the enterprise market, where its opportunity to win market share is very real.