Finding smoking guns in BlackBerry Inc.'s demise has become something of a cottage industry, but the question of whether emerging markets could have been a stronger lifeline for the ailing firm is bolstered by a look at Google Trends. Even with all the frenzy over its imminent sale, users searching the term "BlackBerry" over the past 90 days have been coming predominantly from cities such as Jakarta, Santo Domingo, Lagos and Surabaya, Indonesia – Toronto ranks a distant seventh on the list.
Google Trends also shows that the fastest-rising searches include "q5 blackberry" (300 per cent), though that one was outpaced by "bbm android" (400 per cent), "blackberry messenger android" (350 per cent), the latter two referring to news that the company will make its BlackBerry Messenger (BBM) service available on other mobile phone platforms.
Is it too late for BlackBerry to refocus on emerging markets, if some investor decides to extend them a lifeline? Probably. Though a Foreign Policy post cites such encouraging reports as a survey in South Africa's Sunday Times, conducted as recently as May, 2013, that reported BlackBerry remains the coolest brand among young people, Reuters has a much more damning indictment of the company's performance in Indonesia. One retailer in Jakarta said he expects the release of BBM for Android to benefit Samsung and other Android devices, and an executive at Indosat, one of the country's major carriers, asserted that rather than pick up on the expensively priced Z10, most BlackBerry users carry a second-hand model along with another smartphone.
It seems unlikely that investors joining Fairfax's consortium will want BlackBerry to take another run at a consumer market, even one where the brand remains strong, so for now, file this under "What could have been."