If there’s one company that knows what it’s like to lose a once-dominant position in the market and be seen as a relic of tech history, it’s AOL. That said, AOL has managed to find a way to tough it out and survive through bad times over the years, which is surely something that BlackBerry can take inspiration from. With this in mind, we thought it was interesting that AOL CEO Tim Armstrong this week told CNBC that he still loves using his BlackBerry for work and he makes the best case we’ve heard for why businesspeople should stick with BlackBerry phones, even if they use phones from Apple and Samsung as well.
“The Samsung Note I have, and I have an iPhone also, they are excellent for me for Web viewing, entertainment, video, those type of things,” Armstrong told CNBC. “And I use those phones everyday. But BlackBerry for me is a utility. If you look around Sun Valley you see people who have to do a tremendous amount of work… on BlackBerrys.”
Granted, the number of people who are best off using a BlackBerry is vastly smaller than the number of people who would be best off using an iPhone or an Android phone. But Armstrong makes a solid case that we shouldn’t see BlackBerry as a competitor with iOS and Android in the consumer market, but as a niche product for corporate executives who want to be able to quickly fire off corporate emails with a physical keyboard.
And the good news is that BlackBerry CEO John Chen seems to have recognized that positioning its devices as utilities for executives is its best shot at keeping its hardware business alive in North America and Europe. Whether this gambit succeeds is anyone’s guess but it’s definitely a sensible strategy.