Here's One Reason to Buy a BlackBerry (But Still Not BlackBerry Ltd. Shares)

BlackBerry (NASDAQ: BBRY  ) investors have suffered through a 38% share price meltdown over the last year. The once-dominant smartphone platform has become an afterthought, a footnote in mobile history, a joke that is only funny to outsiders. The Canadian company is fighting for its very life, now under new management that actually seems to get just how deep a hole BlackBerry has dug for itself.

As CEO John Chen navigates the most difficult turnaround attempt in recent memory, BlackBerry fans can cling to the one thing the platform is doing right. Nobody makes a faster mobile Web browser than the standard BlackBerry app.

This handsome handset comes with a smoking fast Web browser. But that's always been the case, and people still aren't buying the BlackBerry Z10 and its siblings. Image source: BlackBerry

That's according to online performance monitoring firm New Relic, based on a huge pool of monitoring data. The company culls performance metrics from big-volume partners like Groupon, Zynga, and the online Yellow Pages, resulting in 16.8 billion data points.

The BlackBerry browser doesn't just win the mobile race. It totally obliterates the competition with an average page-load time of 1.55 seconds. In second place, you'll find the mobile Opera at a tortoise-like 4.78 seconds.

It's a software win, not a hardware triumph. There's an Opera browser for BlackBerry devices, too, and it performs in line with Opera versions for the Android and iOS platforms.

Unfortunately, having the fastest browser isn't winning BlackBerry any new customers. In New Relic's presentation of mobile market shares, BlackBerry didn't even merit its own line item: it was folded into the "Other" option, which adds up to a minuscule 2.2% of mobile-browsing volume.

And the BlackBerry browser's turbo-charged performance isn't exactly news. Even the prerelease BlackBerry 10 models for software development completely crushed iPhones and Androids in head-to-head speed tests.

And what it all boils down to is that the best designs don't always win in the real world. When Joe Average walks up to the smartphone counter to pick his next handset, he might note that the browser sure looks snappy on this BlackBerry Z10, "But none of my friends have one of these, and where are all the apps? Just give me an iPhone or Android, buddy!"

Winning a consumer market is at least as much about marketing as it is about having the best product. And it's very hard to turn the beat around once you've got a bad reputation -- not to mention those plummeting sales that put the entire platform's future in jeopardy. It's one of those vicious cycles.

On the upside, Chen seems open to making a software business out of BlackBerry. Maybe he'll be able to bring this hot-rod browser to iPhones and Androids at some point. But even so, it's hard to see how one mobile app (or a handful, if other BlackBerry apps like the Messenger also take off) supports a $5 billion market cap.

In the end, this browser-speed title is a nice feather in BlackBerry's cap -- but not an investable win.

If BlackBerry isn't a good smartphone investment, can you show me a stock that is?
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Read/Post Comments (9) | Recommend This Article (6)

Comments from our Foolish Readers

Help us keep this a respectfully Foolish area! This is a place for our readers to discuss, debate, and learn more about the Foolish investing topic you read about above. Help us keep it clean and safe. If you believe a comment is abusive or otherwise violates our Fool's Rules, please report it via the Report this Comment Report this Comment icon found on every comment.

  • Report this Comment On February 06, 2014, at 1:36 PM, Gump1968 wrote:

    Oh, ye of little faith! It will take awhile but BBRY will once again be a key niche player in the market.

  • Report this Comment On February 06, 2014, at 2:58 PM, TimKnows wrote:

    WOW, was that dumb, even Apple looked aweful when it first launched its OS. Why are we still reading nonsense like this today?

  • Report this Comment On February 06, 2014, at 3:10 PM, powerphrase wrote:

    Blackberry will get back its Glory Days. Z30 is a Amazing Smart Phone. Check it out.

  • Report this Comment On February 06, 2014, at 4:31 PM, sunjammer wrote:

    Where are the apps...? what do you mean? My friend with a Z10 has all the same apps I have on my iPhone: Netflix, Twitter, Instagram, Vine, Tango, and all the same games are available too. I see no problem with apps? I'm tempted to get a Z30 myself.

  • Report this Comment On February 06, 2014, at 4:46 PM, 1magine wrote:

    Not sure what you are talking about with: "Where are the apps?"???? BB has the most apps of any platform period! They have 10s of thousands of native apps on the BB World site and access to Android's full library through 3rd party app stores like Amazon and 1mobile.

    Granted the market share is in the toilet, but given all the competitions it won at the last CES and the all the other things it has done right this year, it's no wonder BB is the best performing tech app the last few months.

    I'm always surprised by those who should be on the cutting edge of market dynamics falling back on old stories. Poor job done here. And a disservice to both investors and consumers.

  • Report this Comment On February 06, 2014, at 4:46 PM, abigchocoholic wrote:

    The BlackBerry browser doesn't just win the mobile race. It totally obliterates the competition with an average page-load time of 1.55 seconds. In second place, you'll find the mobile Opera at a tortoise-like 4.78 seconds.

    ------------------

    That is pretty amazing. Got admit.

  • Report this Comment On February 06, 2014, at 5:07 PM, WilsoniaGoldens wrote:

    Where are the apps? They are in BB world. With "snap" they are all apps in Google play store that run on Jelly bean 4.2. and with the Amazon app they are all the apps in the Android Amazon app store.

    The picture number password is the fastest access and most secure secure way to carry important information on a phone. In places where there is NFC you can use your Z10 and other BB10 device to securely buy products. By far the best system available today. If you want to hate Blackberry and BB10 check this out:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BhnqddmFTAg

  • Report this Comment On February 07, 2014, at 9:38 AM, BR14 wrote:

    "what it all boils down to is that the best designs don't always win in the real world"

    They certainly don't if the primary sales outlets won't stock the phones.

    BlackBerrys problem is that carriers don't make enough money on their devices, and therefore won't sell them.

    Hopefully John Chen will fix that issue. And then everyone else can discover what I already know, that the Z30 is the best phone on the planet.

  • Report this Comment On February 07, 2014, at 11:36 AM, stm121184 wrote:

    How very disappointing. Buying into BBRY twists of the truth? Saw that Html5test.com and thought "wow, its got a higher number, that has to be better!"? BBRY's browser may be better that it used to be, but it has MAJOR capacity issues. Take that amazing Blackberry 10 and visit a high data site, my favorite is a local weather site, beaumontweather.com. after it loads in 5 minutes, load it up in Android, which takes seconds. Data heavy sites are expanding, HTML5 is getting more and more complex, and the high data even from a simple HTML site can't be handled by BBRY. And back to HTML5TEST.COM... just because it looks fancy and runs a test does not necessarily mean its real. Not saying it isn't, but has anyone else run a WHOIS on the domain? BBRY has been touting this test, which came out of nowhere, and look at the ownership, is it a company like Ookla or just a random kid? Where is the domain from? Are you really going to trust a restricted source from a behind the times country to be the true judge? BBRY is throwing a blanket over a lot of peoples eyes, check their one claim of benefit out before saying its factual.

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