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Good question, right? Given all the uncertainty around BlackBerry "the company" these days, including the fact there is now an offer on the table to take BlackBerry private, you can't help but wonder if it still makes sense to run out and buy a new BlackBerry even if you want one.
I received the email below from Nwadike who lives in Jamaica seeking advice on whether he should buy a new BlackBerry. I think his questions and thoughts are representative of many potential BlackBerry owners out there:
Hi Kevin, I'm hoping that you can give me some advice.
I'm getting a new phone and want to get a Blackberry because I currently own a Bold 9700. I was thinking about getting a Bold 9900 because it falls within my price range. However, with all the turmoil I'm hearing about the Blackberry company, do you think it's wise for me to invest in a phone that people are saying is a dying breed?
I don't care much for apps and use my phone strictly for communication and connectivity purposes. The only apps I'll be using daily will most likely just be facebook, twitter, any other app that deals with security or navigational purposes, bbm and the browser for when I'm in the quick need for information. I'm also not a huge fan of touch screens as the primary tool for typing.
With that said my only fear is this; if I buy a Blackberry now in this "troubled" market for the company, will my phone stop being supported? That is, would apps and other services currently utilized by the smart phone stop functioning in about a year's time?
Additional information is that I'm currently in the country of Jamaica and will be here for a year. Their service plans are different from those of other international carriers from what I read.
I love blackberry, I want a blackberry. Please let me know if buying a blackberry now is not a mistake. Thanks
To be honest, I wasn't immediately certain what the clear cut answer was here - given last week's news of layoffs and refocusing on the prosumer, it's hard right now to know what BlackBerry will look like down the road. So I forwarded Nwadike's email onto a friend from BlackBerry to get their take on it to see how it compared to mine.
Here's the message for Nwadike based on his email:
Your questions are reasonable given the media coverage swirling around BlackBerry recently, but it’s important to take a step back to understand what we really know.
We know that BlackBerry is exploring “strategic alternatives” and that the stated purpose of this process is to maximize the value of BlackBerry technology. BlackBerry has clearly stated it is seeking to scale BlackBerry 10, to continue to drive innovation in the platform and to deliver products and services that meet customer needs.
The more recent news about layoffs needs to be put into context also, which means remembering that CEO Thorsten Heins has repeatedly discussed the three-phased transformation of BlackBerry and the need to make difficult decisions about streamlining the company as part of that transformation.
He stated last week that such changes are designed to give BlackBerry more focus on delivering mobile computing technology to enterprise and “prosumer” customers – those who value technology purpose-built for enhancing productivity – and which based on the way you described yourself would include you.
There’s no way to predict, of course, where this will end up, but if you cut through the media swirl and examine what BlackBerry has publicly stated about its objectives, that ought to give you more confidence.
This response echos my sentiment as well. Since Nwadike is looking at BlackBerry 7 device specifically, it's less about OS improvements and more about service reliability - and I believe BlackBerry will definitely keep their cloud services (BIS/BES/etc) up and running for the long haul. And on the carrier support side of things, in terms of supporting BIS plans, I think BlackBerry's enterprise presence ensures this will continue for years to come as well - even as legacy support.
Given Nwadike's needs and price focus, going for the Bold 9900 is still a great choice in my opinion - not a mistake for him at all. The only other option I'd throw in is to potentially be on the lookout for low-cost Z10s. Given that BlackBerry did a writedown on them recently, you could see the Z10 become a very affordable option, and even though Nwadike prefers physical keyboards, typing on the Z10 is pretty dang amazing. Plus this would get you onto the BlackBerry 10 over BB7, which future proofs the device since no special BIS plan is required. Something to think about!