Make Flying Great Again

The Trump administration’s recent implementation of a policy banning large electronic devices, including laptops and tablets, in passengers’ carry-ons on flights departing from the Middle East, has airline companies scrambling.  The mainstream providers, including Emirates, Turkish Airways, Etihad, and Qatar, are now on the defensive, as they try to not lose their market share of long-haul flights to the United States.  More localized airlines, such as Air India, are greedily eyeing others’ shares, as they can provide flights to American that connect in China or Japan.  The Middle-Eastern airlines’ fears are not without evidence, as Turkish Airlines’ stock fell about 7% when the electronics ban was announced in the United States.

As such, many of the airlines have started marketing campaigns, attempting to reassure customers that they do not really need personal computers or Kindles to have an enjoyable in-flight experience. The quality of the advertisements vary demonstrably; one of the better, more notable examples is Etihad Airway’s commercial entitled “Make Flying Great Again.”  This commercial puts the perpetrator of the new American policy, President Donald Trump, in its sights, while also highlighting the multitude of benefits that comes with flying with their airline, such as in-flight wi-fi for cellphones, reclining seats, and premium meals.

Other airlines take a, perhaps, more traditional route by using famous actors and actresses in their commercials, in order to entice more customers.  In a brief, eighteen-second advertisement posted on Twitter, Emirates uses Jennifer Aniston to highlight the seat-back entertainment on their flights.  However, Emirates’ piece incited a good amount of backlash; an employee from the International Middle East Center tweeted, “@emirates journalists aren’t looking to be entertained on long flights.  Laptops are necessary to meeting a deadline.”

The United States has its reasons for banning large electronic devices on carry-ons from the Middle East; whether these reasons are morally just or not is a different story.  Intelligence agencies have recently thwarted several bomb threats, and they are in fear of a particular bomb-maker, Ibrahim al-Asiri, whom they say is incredibly cunning in his designs. Regardless, it is a difficult situation for many airlines, and all of the Middle-Eastern airlines are attempting to spice up their image, in order to not lose any market share or profits.  However, there is some hope on the horizon.  Even if the United States does not repeal this ban, airlines can start providing their customers with loaner laptops. Qatar Airways has already begun this service for its business-class passengers, and it is easy to assume that many more airlines will follow in its footsteps.  While this program is not ideal, it will lessen the already uncomfortable experience for travelers.


Where Have All The Blackberries Gone?

It looks like it’s the end of an era. Nearly ten years after the release of the first iPhone, Blackberry’s market share has dropped to 0.0%. Well, it’s actually 0.0481% for the 4th quarter of 2016, but that can be rounded to a startling zero percent. Blackberry, once a notable player within the cellphone industry, has all but vanished from the market.

What has happened to this company? One can remember a time where, around the mid 2000s, almost every working professional had a Blackberry. In fact, the companies products were so well renowned, that people affectionately referred to them as “Crackberries.” People constantly on the go cherished them for their full QUERTY keyboard and and email functionality.

So where did Blackberry’s market share go? It would appear that iOS and Android operating systems, through the rise in popularity of Apple iPhones and Samsung Galaxies, have formed what appears to be a duopoly; the two hold 99.6% of the cellphone market share. Most people looking to buy a cellphone today choose not to purchase a Blackberry; as such, the company’s consumer base looks to be a rapidly aging group. This could prove a larger marketing issue than it has in the past, as the company’s value continues to plummet. The fall of Blackberry has been long and drawn-out, even if it hasn’t been noticed by the general populace. Blackberry stock hit its record high of about $140 in 2008, but since then, its price has fallen to $7.35 (February 16th). Although Blackberry does produce handsets that run on other operating systems, such as Android, these products only accounted for around 400,000 product sales in the second quarter of 2016.

One can ask what the future holds for Blackberry. The company has handed off future production of their name-brand cellphones to the Chinese company TLC Communication.  Instead, Blackberry is moving away from the cellphone industry. Currently, the firm is looking into producing software and also self-driving vehicle research. For those curious about the developments within the cellphone industry, it will be captivating to see how the company turns out. It is possible that diversifying Blackberry’s portfolio of products could lead them out of a gulley, but it is just as likely that it destroy them completely. Perhaps, it would be better for a firm, like Microsoft or Apple, to buy them while trying to vertically integrate. The employees of Blackberry could almost certainly prove beneficial to any company that acquires them. As Apple continues to increase profitability by limiting their operating system to their own in-house products, the challenge of keeping up will prove to be too much for most companies, like it has been for Blackberry. Apple seems to have the luxury smartphone market cornered, while Android manufactures are able to sell units at all different price points. It is entirely possible that we will see a pure duopoly, or even a monopoly, inside the cellphone market in the not-too-distant future.