John Paczkowski

Recent Posts by John Paczkowski

BlackBerry: We Have Switchers, Too

Ellen_feiss_blackberrySkeptical that BlackBerry’s new operating system and the handsets on which it runs are slick enough to convert iPhone and Android users? Don’t be. And if you can’t help but raise an eyebrow over the idea, at least keep an open mind. Because, according to BlackBerry CEO Thorsten Heins, the appeal of the company’s new Z10 handset extends well beyond BlackBerry loyalists.

Heins, who has been in the press a lot lately, talking up BlackBerry’s new make-or-break line of smartphones, told Spanish newspaper Expansion this week that the Z10 has been well-received by more than just the BlackBerry faithful.

“We are receiving a very positive response to BlackBerry 10 from our customers, but it’s also been attractive for customers coming from other platforms,” Heins told Expansion. “We are a little surprised by that.”

Happily surprised, I imagine. BlackBerry’s comeback hinges not just on convincing existing customers to remain on its platform, but also on convincing users of rival operating systems like iOS and Android to switch. The big question, of course, is, can the company convince those users to switch in meaningful numbers, and across a number of markets?

According to BlackBerry there are some indications that it can. Sunil Dutt, managing director for BlackBerry India, says that the number of BlackBerry switchers in the country has been significant. Said Dutt, “In a couple of markets where we launched first, about 45 percent of people who bought BB10 devices were unique customers who were using phones of some other brand.”

Forty-five percent.

That seems high for a new platform from a struggling handset maker, but it does jibe with what BlackBerry told AllThingsD last week. “We are seeing strong interest from consumers currently on other platforms, but can’t comment further on specifics,” BlackBerry spokeswoman Amy McDowell said. “While of course our loyal customer base is upgrading to BlackBerry 10, initial reports from Canada and the U.K. are encouraging, and data suggests a significant percentage of users are coming to us from iOS and Android, too.”

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I think the NSA has a job to do and we need the NSA. But as (physicist) Robert Oppenheimer said, “When you see something that is technically sweet, you go ahead and do it and argue about what to do about it only after you’ve had your technical success. That is the way it was with the atomic bomb.”

— Phil Zimmerman, PGP inventor and Silent Circle co-founder, in an interview with Om Malik