Friday, December 21, 2012

Can Blackberry Rebound?

With Apple taking a majority of the US Smartphone market and corporate IT departments and employees embracing the iPhone, the Blackberry continues to lose customers and market share and "says it lost subscribers for the first time in the latest quarter, as the global number of BlackBerry users dipped to 79 million." And while actual numbers  were better than analyst estimates, Blackberry is clearly moving in the wrong direction.

Blackberry is scheduled to release its latest smartphone, but can they win back customers?  Certainly design is critical and everyone is emulating the touch screen approach, but also important are the applications that run and how how is the functionality of the phone is to use.  For personal use, I have an iPhone; my company cell phone is a Blackberry Bold.  Functionally, the Blackberry is a brick to me.  Confusing buttons, functionality that is not easy to understand, and a temperamental touch screen. I can see why people are switching to Apple and Android devices.

Will the new Blackberry attract users back to the fold or is it too little too late?  The Blackberry image from its older models may be hard for consumers to except a new look and a new approach.  Current Blackberry customers may be set in their ways with their current phones, ones that they have mastered over time, and not appreciate that the newest phones may be more clone-like than consistent with the brand they have grown up with. What is clear is that Blackberry was once the leader and has been thrown off the top of the hill.  They must now fight with the new leader to retake the top and that requires continual innovation and imaginative marketing.


Hulu - Free or Pay, Successful or a Loser?

Hulu seems to have a problem; it doesn't know what it wants to be.  With multiple owners with different ideas of Hulu's strategy, they are going nowhere fast.  Perhaps the biggest question posed by it's owners, should Hulu be a free website or subscription. According to the Wall Street Journal, Disney wants Hulu to be a free service, getting revenue through advertising; Fox/News Corp wants a pure subscription model.  

Operating as a mixture of both has perhaps limited their ability to eke out a profit. The result has been that Hulu remains dwarfed by competitors like Netflix, Amazon, and You Tube.  Less video views, less unique viewers, and less paid subscribers.  And Hulu is not only losing money, it is asking its owners to pony up additional dollars to invest in more content.  But is there enough incentive by its owners to want to work together to build out a business that eventually cannibalizes on the revenue they get from cutting their own deals with cable operators and others?  Why share your content's revenue when you can keep it all for yourself.

It may be a no win situation.  "The fact is,  (CEO Jason) Kilar has, in a couple years, built a Web brand that you have heard of. "  But with multiple owners with different, competing interests, it seems necessary for Hulu to find a single owner and a committed strategy to compete effectively.