The Fall of Blackberry

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The Fall of Blackberry
24 Jan 2022
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Blackberry was the market leader of the early 2000s and one of the first companies to introduce the concept of smartphones to the world. Those shiny black smartphones were not just a medium of communication but were a must-have for the people coming from the business class and for the people who came from upper-class society. However, the golden days of Blackberry were over. Within a few years, this company went from Hero to Zero and eventually was nowhere to be seen in the market. What went wrong? What were the mistakes made by Blackberry that burned the company to ashes? #TWN

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History of Blackberry

Blackberry came into existence in 1984, but in its starting years, Blackberry was a company known for the manufacturing of modems and pagers. On 19th January 1999, the world was going to witness a revolution in the world of smartphones. On this date, Blackberry launched its Blackberry 850. With the feature Email on the go, Blackberry started to dominate the market. However, 850 was not something you will call a smartphone, but it was more of an advanced version of a pager, and in the year 2000, Blackberry launched its first model of mobile phone, "Blackberry 957." It was an absolute hit among the masses and received a lot of positivity. With features like Internet surfing and momentum emails, it dominated the market.

Now there was no looking back for Blackberry. Every year with the launch of a new smartphone, Blackberry became the most renowned company in the market. Its target audience was the people who came from the upper class of the society, including businessmen, celebs, and politicians. Every person looking for security and privacy was fascinated by this smartphone. Not only did Blackberry provide great features, but with its sleek design, broad qwerty keypad, and a weird but unusual logo, it became a status symbol, and people who owned these smartphones were automatically admired by the masses.

By the year 2009-10, Blackberry ruled the market with the revenue of 20 billion dollars every year, over 50 million devices sold per annum and with 20% of the Global Market share and 50% of the US market share. Although it faced many competitions, they hardly affected this seemingly invincible Giant.

However, just after the year 2010, Blackberry faced a devastating fall in its sales. What happened? What went wrong? Let’s find out.

Downfall of Blackberry

Blackberry ruled the market, and no one thought it would ever face any sort of downfall. Forget about the downfall, there was no competition in the market for this corporation. Although iPhone was launched in 2007, it seemed to not affect Blackberry until 2010. It was this year when the company, which was once thought to be invincible, started to fall, and eventually, was in an absolute state of misery. While Blackberry shared 50% of the US market, it fell to just 5% by 2016. As we discussed, Blackberry sold 50 million devices every year and generated a revenue of 20 billion dollars, but a drastic change was seen in its revenue by 2016. Blackberry generated revenue of only 2 billion dollars, and, in 2021, it generated a revenue of just 893 million dollars, while its main competitor Apple has recently crossed a valuation of $3 trillion and became the first company to cross the valuation of trillion dollars. What Apple did was simple! It caught the pulse of the market, which Blackberry failed to do.

There are mainly three reasons which are to be blamed for the degradation of Blackberry:

  • The stubbornness of the company.
  • Obsession with their Operating System.
  • Ignoring the competition.

Let’s take a deeper dive into them.

The Stubbornness of the Company

No, we are not using any heavy words! Blackberry did fall victim to stubbornness. The best example is its obsession with the qwerty keypad. While the iPhone was gaining more and more success with its touch screen mobile phones. Blackberry remained stuck to its qwerty keypad design and refused to innovate, which eventually became one of the prime reasons for the downfall of the company. Although Blackberry tried to adapt to touchscreen trends in the Blackberry Storm, it proved to be a disaster, and hence they decided to remain stuck with their qwerty keypad model, which was not the best idea for the company’s future.

Blackberry’s failure can also be attributed to its other lack of innovations, such as Camera. Although Blackberry was the first company to attach a camera to a phone, for one or the other reason, they never quite improved this innovation, while other companies like Samsung and Apple kept on improving their camera quality which also added to their growth. It can be concluded that Blackberry’s lack of innovation and adaptation led to its ultimate failure and downfall.

Obsession with their Operating System

For running a Blackberry smartphone, you required a Blackberry OS, which lacked some major features and technology. In this operating system, developers were not allowed to freely develop apps in abundance, while other operating systems such as Android and iOS allowed the developers a free hand to develop the apps according to the customer demand. Even users got the freedom to download a variety of games and apps, which made the usage of smartphones quite fun and easy to use. While Blackberry OS allowed comparatively very few apps, even after starting to lose in the race, they did not make the wise choice of adding more apps instead stuck to their apps and, most of them were Blackberry exclusive, e.g., BBM, which only allowed you to send messages to other Blackberry phones but when the customer base started to switch to other phones Blackberry kept it exclusive for their phones and eventually, WhatsApp took over for messaging.

Ignoring the competition

While Apple kept on growing, Blackberry carelessly ignored Apple as its direct competition, which was a humongous mistake. However, Blackberry’s too much trust in its current business models started to affect the company and not in a positive way, Emails, messages, internet surfing, and calls were the only features provided by Blackberry while Apple and other OS provided tons of other features, which made it quite convenient for the users, and you can forget the revolutionary feature, Siri.

Blackberry entirely focused on business personnel for their sales. Hence, they only included features that help to ease the work of the business persons but, what they missed was that even these people have other things to do apart from business, and even their target audience shifted to their competitors.

With all of the above reasons included, Blackberry eventually lost all its market and stopped manufacturing smartphones. On January 4, 2022, the company or, shall we say, the era came to an end. Now, if you have a smartphone that runs on Blackberry OS, it's no more than just a box with buttons as the Blackberry OS won’t be functional anymore. Although Blackberry launched the phone with features like a dual-curved screen with 3GB RAM, it was already too late, and the company was already pierced.

FAQ

When was Blackberry founded?

Blackberry was founded in 1984.

Which was the parent company of Blackberry?

Research in Motion (RIM) was the parent company of Blackberry.

What was the market share of Blackberry?

In the year 2009-10, Blackberry was at its peak with a market share of 20% globally but came crashing down and was reduced to 5% by the year 2016.

How much revenue did Blackberry generate?

In its golden days, Blackberry generated a revenue of $20 Billion, but in the year 2021, it generated revenue of just $893 Million.

When did Blackberry go completely out of Business?

Although Blackberry stopped manufacturing phones in 2016, it was not until 4th January 2022 that even its OS completely stopped working.

What went wrong? Why did Blackberry fail?

The lack of adaptation was the prime reason for Blackberry to fail. While people got comfortable with the touch screen, Blackberry stuck to the qwerty keypad, which ultimately failed the company.

Will Blackberry return?

Blackberry is bound to return in the year 2022 with the launch of a new smartphone called Blackberry 5g, but Blackberry won’t be the manufacturer of this smartphone. The company Onward will be the manufacturer of this phone.

Conclusion

Survival is all about adapting. Blackberry refused to change and adapt according to the customer's demand, and hence they were not able to survive the cutthroat competitions. Sticking to the traditional methods can sometimes prove to be deadly.

In the Lockdown itself, a ton number of businesses went to ruins because of their lack of adaptations and, some Businesses like Amul even grew in a very extreme way. Everything comes to one point that is innovation, as the things that seem to be luxury today could become a necessity tomorrow. The lessons that we can learn from Blackberry are: we need to adapt, continuously study the market, should not be afraid of a change, and never adopt a laid-back attitude, even if we are on top.

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