T-Mobile Abandons Blackberry

by Matt Klassen on September 27, 2013

One had to wonder if there was going to be a market reaction following the news earlier this week that Blackberry was up for sale and in talks with an interested consortium about going private, and it looks like America’s fourth largest mobile carrier T-Mobile is the first one to see the writing on the wall.

Earlier this week T-Mobile announced it would be pulling Blackberry phones off the shelves at its brick and mortar retail locations, because as company executive vice president for corporate services David Carey explains, the phones have not sold particularly well and so “keeping stock in the retail distribution system was inefficient.”

This means that T-Mobile will no longer maintain an inventory of Blackberry devices in-store, but will continue to display the phones and interested Blackberry customers, if there are any, will be able to order whatever device T-Mobile supports. I have to wonder, though, if this is just the first of many such reactions, as carriers start to distance themselves from Blackberry in its last days.

It wasn’t that long ago that Blackberry devices were the most coveted handsets on the market, equally attractive to business customers and general consumers alike. The company was able to build a mobile empire on the back of its handy QWERTY keyboard and innovative BBM messaing service, which for years drove carriers crazy because it allowed customers to circumvent texting fees.

But somewhere along the road Blackberry lost its way, soon replaced by newer, shinier must-have devices like Apple’s iPhone and Samsung’s Galaxy franchise. In fact, it wasn’t long before both companies had copied and surpassed anything Blackberry had to offer, leaving the Waterloo mobile giant in a downward spiral it would ultimately never recover from.

While many see the impending Blackberry buyout from the financial consortium led by current investor Fairfax, don’t count on it, as if Blackberry’ mobile think tank couldn’t find a way out of this mess, there’s even less a chance in my mind that a bunch of bean counters will find a way.

In fact, I would guess that this acquisition deal, should it go through, won’t be the savior Blackberry is hoping for, as the only things investors want out of Blackberry now is a modicum of profitability, and that will only come through software licensing and the company’s slow morph into a patent troll.

Handling mobile development, distribution, sales, and everything else associated with building a successful mobile device isn’t easy, and it’s likely a headache theFairfaxconsortium wants no part of. Instead, look for Blackberry to begin to license its intellectual property at an alarming rate, creating a relatively small but steady revenue stream that will allow the consortium, once it takes the company private, to make a tidy profit.

It’s a future that I think mobile carriers are acutely aware of and T-Mobile is simply the first to act. By pulling Blackberry products from its shelves the carrier is making a statement, no one wants the Blackberry now, nor will they ever, so why waste the effort? Of course the company will still allow customers to order a Blackberry, but we all know that will never happen. Stay tuned for the rest of the top carriers to once again follow T-Mobile’s lead.

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Written by: Matt Klassen. www.digitcom.ca. Follow TheTelecomBlog.com by: RSS, Twitter, Facebook, or YouTube.

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