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06/28/2013

BlackBerry needs to sort itself out - urgently

Canada's biggest tech darling may want to do something else rather than make cellphones and tablets, and the operating systems that power those device.

For example, take the BlackBerry PlayBook. It's a tablet that never really sold particularly well.

A friend of mine has one that he says doubles as a Frisbee. At one point, the 16 GB tablet was selling for $99 at Staples.

And then this week, BlackBerry drove the final nail into the coffin of the tablet, by saying it won't be making the BB 10 operating system available for the device, despite promising to do so back in January.

It was also during the release of its first-quarter results that the company announced it missed the revenue expectations of analysts, and it would probably keep losing money in the next few months.

Without a doubt, investors weren't pleased. The share price dropped faster than the Drop Zone ride at Canada's Wonderland, sliding more then 25 per cent on the Nasdaq.

How about phones? The Waterloo-based company said it shipped only 2.7 million Z10 handsets, less than the expected 3 million. And that's a fractional amount compared to the number of iPhones that Apple sold: 37.4 million.

Some analysts say the late release of the Q10 hurt BlackBerry, since most of the die-hard users prefer a phone with a physical keyboard rather than the touchscreen-only Z10.

But then again, 37.4 million people seem to be just fine without a physical keyboard, so it's highly doubtful that BlackBerry's sales numbers will surge up with a phone that uses an archaic concept of input.

It may be time for the company to focus on what it does well: corporate accounts and secure instant messaging.

BlackBerry already announced steps in that direction.

For starters, it's going to make BlackBerry Messenger (BBM) available to iPhone and Android users.

BlackBerry is also going to make secure services available for....iPhones and Android phones.

Now, the company just needs to figure out a way to be sustainable doing what it does best.

What will it take for BlackBerry to do well? 

- Maurice Cacho, MSN Tech & Gadgets

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Danny BradburyDanny Bradbury

Danny Bradbury is a technology journalist with 20 years' experience. He writes regularly for publications including the Guardian, the Financial Times, the Financial Post, and Backbone magazine. Danny also writes and directs documentaries.

Maurice CachoMaurice Cacho

Maurice Cacho is a Toronto-based journalist mixing his love for tech with a passion for news. He's also CP24's Web Journalist and appears daily on CP24 Breakfast and weekly on the channel's tech show, Webnation, discussing tech news and trends.

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