Given that background, comparing BBRY to Porsche in any manner seems delusional and it’s embarrassing.
Why BBRY is Suzuki
BlackBerry’s best fit if you want to use an automotive analogy, is Suzuki.
The Japanese automaker is essentially a niche automaker that makes decent cars with a cult following in North America. It’s nothing flashy, and no one’s going to mistake a Suzuki for the kind of supercar the 1% favor.
Where BBRY has its physical QWERTY keyboard as a feature that owners love and that makes it stand out from the rest of the smartphone pack, Suzuki made its name selling all-wheel drive vehicles. Most auto makers have adopted front wheel drive (just as most smartphone makers are firmly in the touchscreen camp), but in the northeast U.S. and Canada especially, all-wheel drive was a functional advantage — despite the fact that its cars weren’t exactly the kind that people line up to get a glimpse at during an auto show.
Some of the other similarities between the two companies are a little more coincidental.
- Suzuki launched its U.S. auto operations in 1985, just a year after BlackBerry (then known as Research in Motion) was founded.
- Suzuki hit its peak in the U.S. in 2007 when it sold 102,000 vehicles; the same year, BBRY became Canada’s most valuable company even as the iPhone launched.
- According to Google (GOOG) Maps, the Cami automotive plant where Suzuki once manufactured its vehicles for the North American market is just a 47-mile drive from BlackBerry’s headquarters.
There’s nothing wrong with being Suzuki. It may not be as glamorous as Porsche, but the company is profitable and it’s doing quite well as the world’s ninth-largest auto manufacturer.
If John Chen and the rest of the BBRY crew don’t lose this Porsche fixation, the company is in danger of sharing another similarity with Suzuki: having to beat a retreat from North American market in the hope of finding success in emerging markets.
As of this writing, Brad Moon didn’t own any securities mentioned here.