Once upon a time, BlackBerry Ltd NASDAQ:BBRY TSE:BB was a hugely successful brand in the mobile phone industry, but those times have changed greatly, as other manufacturers such as Apple Inc. NASDAQ:AAPL have elevated themselves to the pinnacle of the marketplace.
But BlackBerry has indicated that it still very much considers itself to be in the mobile business. With this in mind, BlackBerry introduced its latest smartphone in the last month or so, the BlackBerry Passport. Such devices nowadays must complete with the epic success of the Apple iPhone series. So how has the Passport stacked up against the iPhone 6, and what is the future for BlackBerry?
iPhone 6 vs. BlackBerry Passport
The first thing to note is that in pure spec terms, the BlackBerry Passport is pretty competitive with the iPhone 6. It is more natural to compare the Passport with the smaller iPhone 6 model, as the BlackBerry Passport itself has a 4.5-inch display. This is only slightly smaller than the 4.7-inch display included in the iPhone 6. Both devices have fairly similar screen resolutions, but the BlackBerry Passport features a higher pixel density, so it could be asserted that the Passport’s screen is marginally superior to the iPhone 6.
Apple has always traded on the attractiveness and sleekness of its devices, and it must be said that in this department the BlackBerry Passport is perhaps slightly lacking in comparison to the iPhone 6. The BlackBerry Passport is more than 50 percent heavier than the iPhone 6, which even though it includes a keyboard within its portfolio of features does seem excessive.
The BlackBerry Passport is though competitive in basic spec terms with regard to camera and processor functionality. The Passport would seem to be superior to the iPhone 6 in some respects with regard to camera features, given the fact that it has a 13-megapixel lens which outranks the eight-megapixel snapper fitted in the iPhone 6.
But megapixel rating is only a small part of the story. As reported by TechRadar, the Apple iPhone 6 has one of the best cameras in any smartphone ever. When camera specialists DxO Labs tested snappers in the most popular smartphones, it found that the iPhone 6 came out on top. The effort that Apple has put into the iPhone 6 camera, with such features as optical image stabilization and outstanding video capturing capabilities, has clearly paid off.
However, the BlackBerry Passport also has a pretty nifty processor which ensures that using this particular smartphone is a pleasant experience. The quad-core 2.26 GHz Krait 400 makes this a decent performer in power terms, and the BlackBerry Passport certainly performs all its key functions capably. Of course, Apple gains heavily in this department by developing both its own hardware and software, meaning that the iPhone 6 provides an optimised package. And BlackBerry would be asking a lot for the Passport handset to match the iPhone 6 in terms of slickness of operation, given that the iPhone has been a market leader in this department for several years.
The big plus point of the BlackBerry Passport though is its aforementioned keyboard. And it is this feature which has particularly helped the handset carve out a niche. While the BlackBerry doesn’t have the same street cachet as an Apple device, it was only this week that the British newspaper The Guardian reported on some news which will please BlackBerry’s corporate hierarchy.
Kim Kardashian stated at the Code Mobile conference on Monday that she still loves BlackBerry devices, and has as many as three on the go at any given time. Kardashian identified the convenience of the keyboard as being a major selling point for her. And this is not the only celebrity endorsement that BlackBerry has received recently. Bill Murray, Lindsay Lohan, Cuba Gooding Jr and Leonardo DiCaprio have all been spotted using BlackBerry devices this year.
And it’s not only A-listers who are taking advantage of the BlackBerry Passport’s unique qualities. The prolific emailing abilities off the BlackBerry range ensure that corporate clients remain extremely important for the company. Enterprise users remain the core market of BlackBerry, and its CEO John Chen recently estimated that 80 percent of the 50 million enterprise users in the United States could be targets for a Passport.
Certainly this is a little optimistic in the short-term, but BlackBerry has made an excellent marketing decision in offering the Passport at $150 less than the Apple iPhone 6 Plus off-contract. Chen has already confirmed that the Passport sold out within six hours of its initial release at Blackberry’s own website, while just a few hours later its entire provision was sold out at Amazon. It is also asserted by the CEO of BlackBerry that the device is profitable at its existing $599 US price point.
The Passport has also been well received critically, with the BlackBerry Passport’s average rating on Amazon 4.8 out of five stars. Of course, when considering the commercial success of the device, we’re talking about very different numbers to the iPhone. The BlackBerry Passport sold out of its initial 200,000 inventory, but the iPhone 6 is predicted to sell around 62 million units in this quarter alone.
But news is definitely rosier for BlackBerry than it has been in recent years. This is certainly good news for the corporation, as its very existence as a smartphone manufacturer was up for grabs, and to some extent remains in jeopardy. Needless to say, there is no need for Apple to assert that it wishes to remain in Mobile sales; this is assumed to be self-evident!
Share price rally
Nonetheless, BlackBerry’s share price has picked up in the last couple of weeks on the back of some optimistic signs for the company.
Whether or not it can keep this momentum going in an incredibly competitive smartphone marketplace is debatable. But what can be said for certain is that the company has identified a clear niche with the Passport, and unlike many other electronics companies who are producing smartphones, has delivered something genuinely unique and original.