Some say it is Apple’s iPhone. Some say it is Android. But the fact is that if anyone needs to be blamed for Blackberry’s woes it is Blackberry itself.
On 12th August, when Blackberry (formerly Research In Motion aka RIM) the maker of the once-famous Blackberry smartphone announced that it is putting itself up for sale, Heidi N Moore, Guardian newspaper’s finance and economics editor in the US asked this question to her 37,000 twitter followers. “Blackberry fans out there: want to share with me why you are?....” While some chipped in to say why they loved the now doomed company, one reply in particular showcased how far Blackberry has fallen from it’s heyday in 2009. Arwa Mahdawi, who works at Contagious magazine in New York tweeted, “...our office in London was burgled and the only thing they didn’t take were the Blackberries. Speaks volumes....”
Why would a company that had 50 per cent global marketshare in 2009 fall to a market share of less than 3 per cent in less than four years. The reason depends on whom you ask. Some say it is Apple’s iPhone. Some say it is Android. But the fact is that if anyone needs to be blamed for Blackberry’s woes it is Blackberry itself.
To understand why, you only have to look at another much beloved company located in another northern cold country. Nokia, found itself in exactly the same position that Blackberry is in at present. But just by waking up finally, and by finding a big moneyed backer like Microsoft, Nokia is able to evade the guillotine for now. Blackberry, alas is not that lucky, mainly because even today it does not seemed to have realized that the world has changed and this is not 2006 anymore. As Benedict Evans, a technology analyst tweeted hours after Blackberry’s announcement, “Nokia went from denial to acceptance when it dumped Symbian for WP (Windows Phone). Not sure RIM ever got past denial.”
When the iPhone changed the mobile landscape in 2007, this denial that no one wants phones without keyboards, that no one wants phones with paltry battery life, and that no one wants fragile phones that has been behind all the troubles that Blackberry is facing today. By the time it has realized that people do in fact want phones fragile, thin phones without keyboards, it has not done much in the way of making such phones. It’s 2008 offering which was supposed to be the answer to the iPhone, called the Blackberry Storm featured the very awkward Surepress touchscreen which was a cross between a keyboard and a touchscreen. In an year when iPhone was introducing high-speed full fledged browsing through WiFi, the Storm launched without WiFi capabilities and a very bad browser.
When your smartphone business is failing and when you are not able to compete with the market leader, the last thing you should do is compete with that same market leader in a new segment. But that is exactly what Blackberry did in 2010, when it debuted it’s first tablet called Playbook to compete with the iPad. This proved to be another costly mistake as the Playbook, coming from a company famous for it’s email capabilities, did not even feature native email.
When the company’s two CEOs who were pulling it in opposite directions stepped down to hand over the reins to Thorsten Heins in 2012, Blackberry fans rejoiced that their company’s fortunes will be finally reversed. But it was not to be. After resisting calls to adopt Android like Samsung, Blackberry released the half-baked BB10 operating system which hastened the company’s demise. Six years after the launch of iPhone, Blackberry finds itself without a credible app store, and an accompanying ecosystem. As a result, like all the dinosaurs that refuse to adopt, Blackberry will now be confined to history books.
AN ICON FELLED
■ The company’s global market share in the smartphone segment fell from 50 per cent in 2009 to 3 per cent in 2013.
■ After resisting calls to adopt Android like Samsung, Blackberry released the half-baked BB10 operating system which hastened the company’s demise.
The writer is a tech geek. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org