John Chen, a turnaround artist and current CEO of Blackberry, has a formidable task ahead of him: Make Blackberry a viable firm once again now that the luster has long since worn off. In an article in the San Jose Mercury News, Michelle Quinn provides thoughtful insights:
Silicon Valley has a predictable cycle: Companies experience periods of rapid growth and then, for most of them, a maturation period of flatter growth. For others, contracting revenues can start a tailspin of contracting ambition. Not many survive as independent companies. BlackBerry may not be a survivor. Even Chen compares BlackBerry to a patient in critical condition.
John Chen’s offers his turn-around formula:
“The first thing you do is stabilization,” he said, “which means in business getting the financials in order.” Then, “you examine what is driving you to disconnect with customers. If you weren’t disconnecting from customers, then you wouldn’t need me.”
Quinn offers, “For now, BlackBerry is focused on its core customers in government and industries like finance, banking and health care who value security and long battery life.” Here’s another take:
“I don’t envy the guy,” said Mike Levin, partner and co-founder of Consumer Intelligence Research Partners, which pegs BlackBerry’s U.S. consumer market penetration as rounding down to 0 percent. “Smartphones are more than a consumer product now. The challenge is going to be to find something distinctive that competitors don’t have or won’t be able to copy within a year.”
The world has innovated around Blackberry. Blackberry, like so many firms before it, was caught flat-footed watching its market share erode quarter after quarter for a number of years now.
Once a firm loses its luster, it’s nearly impossible to become highly desirable again. Best case, Blackberry can be niche player if John Chen can connect Blackberry as being the preferred smartphone in one or more niches.
How is your business trending? Are you growing? If you aren’t growing, you’re on the decline. That’s no way to thrive. If customers turn off and tune out–as they have at Blackberry–it’s nearly impossible to win them back.
Thought for the week:
Dave Gardner, Gardner & Associates Consulting http://www.gardnerandassoc.com
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