When I think of Blackberry – I think of the past, not the present or the future. I fondly think of Blackberry like I think of the Pager, the Walkman, and the Palm Pilot.
There was a time when just about anyone who was someone had a Blackberry. Not too long ago in fact. They were great devices. You could text, go out on the internet, and most importantly get your email! That along with their BBM Service (Blackberry Messaging) you could text your friend, loved ones, and co-workers… as long as they too had a Blackberry. It was a combination of PDA, Email, Internet, Multimedia Player, and Phone – all in one device!
Today though? They are thought of as antiquity, old, and even clumsy devices. Lets take a look and see what happened to a phone that went from having 30+% of the market share to now down to 13% (and tanking fast).
A Brief History of RIM/Blackberry
Although technically the first Blackberry device was created in Germany in 1999 (As a two way Pager Device). It wasn’t until it was released in 2003 to the general populace that it exploded onto the market. This was one of the first devices that could send and receive emails, send internet faxes, listen to music, text, and of course send and receive phone calls.
RIM/Blackberry mainly focused on Email as it’s top selling point. At the time it was a great decision as companies ate it up. They have always been known as a great device for receiving and sending emails – especially in corporate environments. Now from CEO’s to Sales people they could all stay connected in “real time” and never miss another email.
When you think of Blackberry you think of the large easily accessible QWERTY Keyboard, Thumb Wheel (or trackball in later models), and the ability to easily “thumb” through everything on the device. People who had a blackberry were dubbed “Crackberry” users.
All was well and RIM/Blackberry was happily making a TON of money. So what happened?
Resting on RIMs Laurels?
Ignoring the Warning Signs?
Industry outsiders have been warning Blackberry/RIM for YEARS that they need to start thinking outside of the box. I would run across an article and chuckle to myself wondering if the company was ever going to try and break out of its comfort zone. I mean they had the Enterprise market for years – so why ruin a good thing right?
Technology Moving to Fast?
The problem is that technology in the smart phone market has flown by them and they had multiple opportunities to update and adapt, and they didn’t. Instead they kept trying to re-invent the same wheel they had last year, and the year before that. Eventually they decided to try and keep up and fell flat on their face with the:
Blackberry Storm Failure
Back in 2008 RIM/Blackberry attempted to enter into the modern day touchscreen smartphone market. And it “awkward and dissapointing”. (Source: PC World) It was a great concept and I remember the ton of advertisement for it trying to build up the hype.
But the realities were much different then the product they were trying to market. I remember the device as I had a 2nd Gen Apple iPhone at the time. It was horribly slow. The synaptic response was terrible, and it crashed repeatedly. Overall it was a frustrating experience. There was just no comparison to the Apple iPhone which it was attempting to compete with.
I don’t know the issues behind the scenes but the glaring defects to me meant it went through a very QA life cycle and was pushed into production much sooner than it should have. If they had figured out how to get rid of the bugs and offered a smoother experience it could have been a decent phone for it’s time.
I just looked on Verizon’s site and they now have the Blackberry Torch with some very mid level specs: A 3.7″ 800×400 touch screen, 1.2ghz processor, Blackberry OS 7, and a 5 megapixel camera.
Considering you can even get today’s top of the line Android even an iPhone 4S for about the same price (for a new contract) it would be crazy to even think of getting this device!
Back in October 2011 I remember the day when all Blackberry devices suddenly died. Well the service did. Nobody was able to send or receive messages or emails. It was posted on Blackberry’s website that it was a GLOBAL outage. That is pretty serious when an ENTIRE service is taken down. To me this is the final death knell for Blackberry. RIM/Blackberry lost consumer confidence and I know of at least one major company that has it’s users switching to Apple iPhones in droves shortly after the outage.
But hey they did offer $100.00 in free software to try and say ‘sorry’.
Other Serious Blunders
To add insult to injury RIM/Blackberry have been dealing with a serious of other blunders which have hurt their reputation even more if that was possible at this point!
- A man was stabbed at a Blackberry Party in London
- Two Blackberry Executives were kicked off an airplane for being too drunk. (I would be drunk too if I was in there shoes at this point.)
- They introduced the Blackberry Playbook – to lackluster sales and reviews.
- The rioting in London last year? Blackberrys BBM service was blamed for it spreading like wildfire.
- Hackers find a vulnerability in the Blackberry Webkit Browser
- Not to mention their 4th Quarter Earnings statement back in March 2012
There are a ton of better solutions for people now days. It does mean you will be going to either Android, Apple, or Windows for your new device. This could be a large learning curve coming from a Blackberry.
The selection from Android alone will make your head spin. There are so many Android OS smart phones out on the market it could be a pretty daunting task on which phone to get.
My simple advice for choosing a smart phone:
- Choose your wireless provide carefully. I personally use AT&T because I get decent coverage where I live and I can live with the pricing. (That and a discount I get helps!)
- Figure out what features you want for your phone. If you coming from a Blackberry there are a few models that offer a slide out keyboard so you don’t have to deal with a touch interface all the time.
- Make sure you read the fine print! Most contracts require a 2 year term with hefty fines if you decide to kill your plan early. That and you will be required to get a data plan. Although I haven’t personally hit my 2 gig limit – I would suggest getting at least that. But remember, once you start streaming video/movies you could quickly go over your limit!
Apple has their iPhone 4 & 4S which of course is limited to just the two phones – but they offer a polished easy UI interface for those coming from a keyboard. The 4S even has its own built in assistant SIRI. Although users are having varying degrees of success with it.
Note: Android has VLINGO and Google is announcing a personal assistant software to be integrated into it’s Android OS as well.
Apple iPhones are available on AT&T, Verizon, and Sprint. Although I would stick with AT&T – if not for the service, but for the simple task you can actually use data and voice at the same time. Something Verizon neglects to tell you.
Windows Phone (Microsoft)
Windows is the newcomer to the smart phone market. We are just now starting to see some great devices from Nokia, HTC, and Samsung. The “Metro” tiles make it a pretty intuitive device. And if you know Microsoft they are all about integrating with their other products. This could be the business phone of choice in the near future as I’m sure it will probably be the easiest to integrate with Microsoft Outlook not to mention Windows 8.
But I don’t know if it might be too late for Microsoft too?
Foreseeable Future for Blackberry/RIM?
At this point with their stock being the lowest it has been since 2003, the failure to inject new technologies into their devices, and the ongoing decline of business/personal users? I don’t think RIM/Blackberry will be able to rise from the grave it dug for itself.
But at least it will be in the history books along with the Walkman, the Pager, and Palm Pilots! Let’s see if it can either rise from the ashes or die a graceful death.
What do you think though? Can Blackberry rise from the ashes like the Phoenix, or will it continue its ongoing plunge into gadget history?