You’ve probably noticed that BlackBerry phones have pretty much disappeared from the market, but you might be surprised to hear that this is not just a temporary hitch. As of September last year, BlackBerry has completely stopped producing mobile phones; the company still exists, but they are turning to software and security products.
How on earth did this happen? How did the once biggest smartphone maker in the world just drop out of the game? And how come so few people are upset about it (or even notice it)?
Here’s a bit of BlackBerry history, its days of glory and the reasons for its downfall. If you’re in the technology industry, you can surely learn a thing or two from the story.
The glory days: BlackBerry world popularity in the early 2000s
You may have already forgotten it, but BlackBerry was an innovative device that enjoyed immense popularity for some time after its launch in early 2000. In the UK and US in particular, the year 2006 was a true BlackBerry craze. By 2007, every third smartphone purchase in the US was a BlackBerry. It competed for a world leader in the mobile world only with Nokia and was above all others in many respects
BlackBerry’s success lay in the way it catered to its audience and the way it was marketed as phone bringing a whole new way of life with it. And it did affect people’s lifestyle, offering the prime Messenger app of the period, and being always connected to the internet. It greatly permeated this generation’s social lives, ushering in new ways of communication that would only spread in later years.
In 2013 BlackBerry reached its peak with stunning 85 million users worldwide, but that was the beginning of its end. Or, to be fair, the end had already started to loom, only nobody noticed.
The fall: BlackBerry losing the game
After 2013, there was a slow but steady fall in BlackBerry users. The figure dropped to 60 million in 2016, not being a good sign. What was happening?
In this period, importantly, BlackBerry got some serious competitors on the market, offering a very different experience to users. The Apple and Android offered new features, and as their popularity grew, the discrepancy between Blackberry and Apple/Android devices, in terms of appearance and features, became more and more noticeable. Not necessarily a bad thing, as hordes of fans still preferred and loved the BlackBerry device. Still, the situation was not so naïve, and ultimately BlackBerry did lose its fan base completely.
The reasons for its fall, however, and quite complex and can’t be pinned down to just one factor. But you could argue that someone could have predicted and averted the downfall. In any case, let’s examine the main reasons BlackBerry went bust according to experts.
Reasons for BlackBerry failure
If we want to put it briefly, the reason BlackBerry failed was that they did not respond to challenges and market changes over time. Still, there is no one simple reason for its fall. A mixture of factors contributed to it, so here they are in short.
– Application problems, compared to competition – BlackBerry apps clearly never came close to those of Apple and Android.
– Outdated releases – the BlackBerry PlayBook tablet released in 2011 was pretty expensive but offered very little, not even having a built-in email client.
– Hardware issues – the later BlackBerry Z10 and Q10 devices did have a touchscreen. But were nearly as high-quality as the rivals’ devices nor offered the trustworthiness of earlier BlackBerry phones.
– BlackBerry 10 delay – The promised launch of BlackBerry 10 OS got delayed over and over again. Meanwhile, users got to feel more at home with iOS and Android team, so by the time BlackBerry 10 launched few people still cared.
The lesson to learn from BlackBerry
It is clear that BlackBerry made a huge mistake of ignoring the changes of market context. The bigger screens and bigger app selection of Android and iPhones attracted consumers. Focusing on business and government market was no longer a good idea. But BlackBerry seemed happy with the status they had and tried to get back into the game too late. Few tech companies can get away with such mistakes. In this case, it means we wave goodbye to BlackBerry phones.