The Fall of BlackBerry

You know you're in trouble when pets are your main consumer base

The Fall

On Monday,  Toronto-based financial holdings group Fairfax Financial Holdings agreed to acquire BlackBerry in a deal worth $4.7 billion. (Compared to to Nokia which was purchased by Microsoft for $7.2 billion a year ago)

The deals hasn’t been finalised, as terms of the agreement have been speculated to include a condition for the buyer to walk away at any time. However Fairfax and Blackberry will negotiate and finalise a transaction agreement by November 4 when the fall of BlackBerry will be official.

BlackBerry made major announcements last Friday which included:

  • It was cutting 4,500 jobs — between 35-40% of its workforce in an attempt to slash costs by 50 per cent and shift its focus back to competing mainly for the business customers
  • An estimated loss of nearly $1 billion in its second quarter mainly due to unsold Z10 phones
  • A reduction in its product offering from 6 phones to only two high-end devices and two entry-level
  • Revenue was expected to have been $US1.6 billion in the second quarter, almost half of the amount analysts had anticipated. Sales of phones during that time totaled 3.7 million, with the majority being older models. (Apple, by comparison, sold 31.2 million iPhones.)

How the mighty have fallen

During BlackBerry’s peak:

  • Mid-2007, BlackBerry was worth more than $100 billion (Canada’s most valuable company)
  • Autumn of 2009, BlackBerry’s smartphones enjoyed global market share of over 20 per cent including 51 per cent of the North American (their piece of the pie has since evaporated to just 1.5 per cent)
  • BlackBerry smartphones were a symbol of corporate and political power

Marketing failures

  • New competitors entering the smartphone marketing market (Apple and Google)
    • Who were using better hardware in their flag ship phones
    • Creating their own ecosystem of devices, services and software (e.g. Apple: iTunes, App Store, Garage Band, Keynote and Android: Gmail, Youtube, Google Drive, Maps)
    • Which threatened BlackBerry primary target segment, the enterprise users, but as their market share diminished they were slow to identify other user groups to focus on
  • Lack of innovation and adapting to competition
    • Stubbornness to hold onto certain ‘features’ which were becoming out of date *cough* KEYBOARD *cough*
    • Under developed and stagnant app store
    • Couldn’t penetrate into the tablet market i.e. PlayBook (BlackBerry’s tablet) was a flop that gained no traction with its user base
    • Instead of embracing change the market place the company was resisting it. They were resting on their laurels from the successes they gained in the past instead of looking into the future.
  • Customers loyalty and giving their brand champions a reason to fight for them
    • Postponing a weekend launch of an Android and iPhone app for its BlackBerry Messenger
    • Brand identity was being eroded, as newer devices weren’t as reliable with higher rates of breakages
    • Not listening to feedback from customers e.g. only in it’s latest operating system were BlackBerry users able to swap SIMs hassle free

I think there’s a lot to learn from BlackBerry, and it’s a great example of the life cycle of a company.

Job Applications: The Bane of Graduates’ Existence – Cover Letter (Part 2)

Writing a cover letter can be very daunting. I’ve written more than 50 over the past 3 years, and it gets easier with time as you better understand how to put your best foot forward in a highly competitive job market. But it’s only 50% of the work. The first 50% is the research – you can see read more about that in my previous post.

Purpose

The purpose of the cover letter is slightly different to the CV.  It’s the opportunity where YOU can provide a tailored introduction of yourself to the employer to see how good of a fit you are with both the skill requirements for the POSITION but also how you would fit culturally within the COMPANY. It’s like Jambaroo (recreation park), “WHERE YOU CONTROL THE ACTION”.

This is where the ability to research really makes a difference. Once you understand what kind of person the organisation is looking for, it becomes much easier to match your strengths and values with the company and the position.

It’s all about:

  • HOW YOU CAN ADD VALUE and
  • HOW YOU CAN GET ALONG WITH EVERYONE ELSE

Structure

  1.  Introduce who you are, and how you found out about the position and state you interest in the position
  2. State why you’d like to work for the company – show how you fit in culturally (refer to company research). Use the same language they use in their mission statement / values.
    e.g. ‘My passion is all things digital is because…’, ‘I can contribute to this transformation through …’ etc (see notes from previous post under ‘Values’ and ‘People’ for examples of keywords to use)
  3. Match the skills requirements and responsibilities with previous experience. However, don’t just state what your responsibilities were in previous position, but show how effective you can be through MEASURABLE RESULTS. Think of it this way: if you just tell a potential employer that you were responsible for sales, so what? Did you increase sales? By how much? How did you go about it?
  4. Give examples of work / projects that company has undertaken and show why you are excited about working for there. This is especially important as it displays your enthusiasm and research into the company.
  5. Closing statement is where you should give a wrap up of where your skills lie, but ALSO the place to mention anything else that you think will differentiate yourself from other candidates. Think about what you’d answer to the question: ‘Why should I pick you over other equally qualified candidates‘ and adapt that to the closing statement. It’s also important to mention your contact details and that you’re looking forward to hearing back from them.

Other tips

  • There is a need to sound confident (but no cocky) in your cover letter, I would recommend avoiding phrases such as ‘I believe’, ‘I think’, ‘I feel’ and go straight to the point, otherwise ‘I am’ would simply display more self-confidence. I understand sometimes you will need use those phrases, but be careful not to use them too often.
    e.g. Instead of ‘I believe Starcom Mediavest Group would be a great fit for the work I’d love to be involved and successful with…‘, we can change this to ‘Starcom Mediavest Group is a great fit for the work I’d love to be involved and successful with…
  • A cover letter should be ideally 1 page – it’s a teaser to get the attention of the decision makers so that they want to find out more about you and move you along the recruitment process. Anything over 2 pages I feels becomes a bit too long and you might be putting too much information
  • Add some personality, show them your experience and try to be just a little bit unconventional. Tell a story, make the beginning interesting enough so that HR or the managers want to hear more about you.

If you’d like to take a look at the cover letter I wrote for Starcom Mediavest, just shoot through an email (you can find it by clicking on my profile on the right side, typing it here would only attract spam bots picking up my email) and I’d be happy to share. (As long as you ask nicely.)

Notetaking Apps

There’s a smorgasbord (yes I just used that word, a proud moment for me) of notetaking apps for smartphones and tablets, I’ve used a bunch and here’s are the ones that survived first use.

Which ever app(s) to choose, the critical thing is to GET INTO A HABIT. Prepare for the worst i.e. forgetting / being knocked unconscious / Zombie Apocalypse. We become distracted, but the one of the advantages of being human is not our ability to remember, but our ability to create external memory banks. You don’t see other creatures with libraries do you? So might as well take advantage of this ability.

Before I start, I just want to preface that I am currently using the following operating systems:

  • Computer – Windows 7
  • Tablet – Android (Nexus 10)
  • Phone – Android (Samsung Galaxy S3)

What I use

Screenshot of the Google Keep Widget
Google Keep Widget for Android

Google Keep (Android only)

  • A simple notetaking tool created by Google. It’s very easy to use and very handy for jotting down anything on the fly to review later.
  • The good:
    • Great for those who have and Google account and use it often
    • Take notes, lists, photos, reminders and voice recording
    • Simple and intuitive user interface
    • More intergration with Google drive is coming
    • Great widget which quicker access to notes
  • The not(e) so good (bad pun intended):
    • Android ONLY for mobile app (sorry iPhone users) – accessible via all major web browsers
    • Besides colour sorting, no other way of sorting / grouping notes i.e. no hierarchical ordering
    • No password protect feature for those secret notes which you want an added layer of security
  • Links:
Screenshot of Evernote Widget
Evernote Widget for Android

Evernote (Android and iOS)

  • More features and more flexible app (and web app) than Google Keep. I use this for more document keeping and long term storage or information. The Web Clipper extension for web browsers is a MUST USE (see more below)
  • The good:
    • Web Clipper (better than bookmarks!) – you’re able to clip a whole page worth of content using the Web Clipper which will automatically add a new note and attach the URL for reference AND will scan the contents to suggest any tags you should add (for sorting)
    • Ability to edit font and formatting of notes
    • Ability to collaborate with others
    • Also has a very polished widget
    • Combined with Skitch (annotation on images) and Evernote Food (cooking recipes) for more utility
    • Optimised for tablet
  • The not(e) so good
    • Syncing issues when you have notes opened on different devices (which happens more often than you think due to the nature of the work you do with this app)
    • Formatting doesn’t transfer over exactly from word processing software (I’m looking at you Microsoft Office)
    • Some features such as sharing stacks of notebooks are hidden behind a pay-wall (freemium model), seems to take up a lot of my phone’s memory
  • Links

Colournote (Android)

      • Besides some design differences, pretty much the same as Google Keep.
      • The good:
        • The advantage and the reason I still have this on my phone is because of the password protect feature, which means I keep my high use account passwords stored here
        • (I know there are password storing apps, but this is my no-frills version without too much hassle and it’s working (so far)) <— DOUBLE BRACKET! (random  comment)
        • Syncs with Google Account – so you won’t need to rewrite all your note if you’re switching phones / changing devices
      • The not(e) so good
        • Doesn’t have a web app = can’t access information easy on your computer
        • Google decided to pretty much create an app with the same purpose, which means Keep will have better integration with everything else in the Google ecosystem i.e. Googletopia
        • Android ONLY
      • Links

Alternatives that I’ve tried

Wunderlist (Android and iOS)

  • A solid notetaking app I was using for a while before Google Keep came out. Some great features, but the ‘maintenance’ of these lists were just too high for an app that I just wanted the job done quick and dirty. This app might be more useful for those whose nature of work requires taking more detailed notes, as opposed to notetaking ‘on the fly’.
  • The good:
    • Ability to email lists
    • Sub tasks and notes means critical details aren’t missed
    • Great design and user interface
  • The not(e) so good
    • Figuring out how to delete items took a bit of time. Hint: find the trash can
    • Widget doesn’t have a great design (compared to the others)
  • Links:
Screenshot of Wunderlist Webapp
Wunderlist Webapp

 

Any.do (Android and iOS)

Screenshot of Any.do Android App
Any.do Android App
  • I was using this when this app first came out (so very hipster), but after downloading this app again and playing around with it…I might just start using it again. The main differentiating feature is its simple sorting system: Today, Tomorrow, Upcoming, Someday
  • The good
    • Unique sorting system which mimics how we prioritise tasks in our mind
    • Very simple design, but intuitive
    • The plan feature seems a great way to start the day
    • Status bar shows what you need to do (if selected)
  • The not(e) so good
    • There’s a Chrome extension, but nothing for Firefox (and no web app)
    • I think it’s a bit of a memory hog, especially because it’s running in the background
    • Unable to attach images to notes (or voice recordings)
  • Links

So that’s it for my suggestions: if you have any other suggestions let me know and leave a reply down below.

 

Job Applications: The Bane of Graduates’ Existence – Cover Letter (Part 1)

I understand that applying for jobs is never a fun activity, but graduates have it pretty tough, especially in the current job market.

They’ve just finished a 3-5 year degree, probably working part-time/casually at wherever that will pay them, so they have some pocket money to survive and now it’s time to join the full time work force.

This is my third time applying for full time positions, so I thought I’d share what I’ve learnt.

I only just finished applying for a position, so I’ll use it as an example. For this post, I’ll be going through how I prepare and do my research before writing my cover letters.

I wouldn’t say I’m an expert at this, but I do have some experience writing these things and I can say practice makes a BIG difference.

So here goes:

***

First of all this position that I applied for: http://www.bandt.com.au/jobs/digital/digital-coordinator

  1.  Opened up Word or whatever note taking program you’d like – You’ll be needing to a few of these open to do a couple of things.
    • One window will be taking notes
    • Another window will be used for copying and pasting slabs of text
  2. Read the job description and then copy and past ALL of it to a word document.
  3. Re-read the job description, but this time look out for keywords (highlight or bold them) that are important such as:
    • Functions of the company
    • Values / Goals of company
    • Responsibilities for the positions
    • Skills and experience needed for the position
    • Opportunities
  4. Write down the keywords and phrases onto the another document. This is what I had for The Position:
    • Entry level
    • Driven and technologically aware
    • Passion for all things digital
    • Work closely with digital planner in developing digital strategies, implementation plans and reporting framework
    • Monitoring campaigns to ensure correct delivery, optimization and campaign delivery
    • Experience working in agency environment
    • Positive and friendly approach to working relationships
    • Stamina for fast pace agency environment
  5. Then I did a quick Google search for the company name, and took down some more notes – The sites I got further information for were:
  6. I sorted and edited my research notes under a few headings (I’ve attached my research notes to this post for those who want to see the exact content):
    • The Position
    • Opportunities
    • The Company
    • Examples of work for clients / Success of the company
  7. From here I’ll be using these notes, as well my CV and seeing how my experiences fit with the position as well as the company to write my cover letter (this will be coming in Part 2)

Additional Files

Pilot – Let’s get this going

So after much deliberation and thought… I have finally decided to create my very own blog for all to read.
What will you be expecting to read?
Here’s a list (in no particular order):

  • News and opinions on the tech space
  • Marketing related posts
  • Mobile and web app reviews
  • Games reviews
  • Anything else of interest to me that may be slightly out of topic

Hopefully this will be an enjoyable blog to read and maybe helpful too. I’m mainly writing for my own demographic, so I hope the blog will grow and change as I do.