• Transform magazine
  • November 20, 2017

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Rewind: BlackBerry

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BlackBerry was once the leader in smartphone technology. Its inability to adapt has left the brand on the brink of extinction. What do experts thing caused the demise of the once-loved BlackBerry?

David Ferreira, brand manager, City of Mississauga

This year commemorates the 10th anniversary of the release of the rst iPhone. Its launch also marked the beginning of the end for the BlackBerry. Although BlackBerry’s global user base would continue to grow for ve more years (peaking at 80m) its fate was sealed on that day in January 2007.

Launching the iPhone, Steve Jobs claimed to be introducing three products, “A widescreen iPod with touch controls, a revolutionary mobile phone and a breakthrough internet communications device.” Repeating this he asked the audience, “Are you getting it?” before answering, “This is one device.”

There are many reasons why BlackBerry ultimately failed in the market it created: hubris, delays, product failures and leadership turmoil. All were contributing factors, but they were symptoms of a greater malady – BlackBerry didn’t understand what its customers wanted.

BlackBerry was one of a handful of companies to introduce a business device that then successfully crossed-over into the consumer market. Teenagers became as addicted to BlackBerry Messenger as their parents were. The lines between personal and professional blurred. Not coming to terms with this, BlackBerry remained in a struggle between personal and business users not realising they were one and the same.

BlackBerry should have introduced ‘fun’ features such as music, an HD camera, apps and a better web browser. Instead it tried to develop new products to chase different perceived markets. As Jobs declared, everyone just wanted “one device” that was “smart” and “easy to use.”

 

Kelly Anderson, marketing director, Wealth Continuum Group

How the mighty have fallen. Known for its security, battery life and typing, BlackBerry held the dominant position in an emerging smartphone market in the early 2000s. BlackBerry’s fatal mistake was never recognising its consumer’s desire was changing to a different design: the touch screen.

The company’s loyal customers were corporations and businesses because of its security technology. BlackBerry was completely missing the mark on the average consumer who wanted a sleeker look and feel. The brand was stubborn in realising that it was no longer the industry leader and by
the time it recognised the shift, touch screen smart phones had taken over the market. BlackBerry was putting out one after another instead of looking at the full picture of the industry through a revolutionary lens. BlackBerry would make subtle improvements in order to remain competitive with Apple and Samsung but that would only last until their competitors launched another update.

If only BlackbBerry recognised the shift by its consumers and had been willing to adapt to the new marketplace, it could still be a relevant brand in 2017 alongside Apple and Samsung.

Preston Junger, vice president of partnerships, Wide Open Media

The emergence of the smartphone and namely the Apple iPhone in 2007 led to the demise of the BlackBerry platform. The perfect CY storm between the limited offering of the BlackBerry and the launch of Apple’s industry changing iPhone allowed the iPhone to soar and BlackBerry to die a slow death.

For many years Blackberry dominated the phone/handheld space and most importantly became a staple item for most business professionals like myself. We were so excited that with our BlackBerry devices we could show employers and clients that we were constantly reachable and always working. In many ways the BlackBerry really pioneered the modern world we all live in by being connected to information and devices all the time.

In 2005, when I worked for Yahoo! all of the salespeople had BlackBerry devices that we used as our phones as well as our emailing devices. While at the time, the BlackBerry had web browsing capabilities, BlackBerry never evolved the mobile web experience to a place where is was satisfactory.

That combination of BlackBerry’s lack of innovation, which turned it into a glori ed email device, and Apple’s entrance into the mobile phone space allowed for Apple to disrupt BlackBerry’s business model and to disrupt the entire category and how everyone thinks about and uses their phones both professionally and personally.