My last memory of a Blackberry phone is from a Liam Neeson film called Unknown where the actor who uses (and flaunts!) a Blackberry phone hunts down the bad guys. Well, of course, owning a BlackBerry phone was considered cool back in 2011, but after today, they will be nothing more than a paperweight.
If you think hard, these handsets have almost vanished from the market. And as the last nail in the coffin, the company has announced that its phones and tablets running on the BlackBerry OS will “no longer reliably function”.
According to an official statement, “Devices running the legacy services and software through either carrier or Wi-Fi connections will no longer reliably function, including for data, phone calls, SMS and 9-1-1 functionality. ”
For those who don’t know it yet, Blackberry used to be the Apple of the smartphone market at a time. Sadly, today marks the end of an era for the smartphone titan, that pioneered wireless email, as it has lost the battle of its life. The company took a slump after the entry of Apple’s first iPhone, back in 2007, but little did they know that it was the beginning of their downfall.
Tale of a time when Blackberry used to rule the smartphone market
Blackberry is a Canadian firm, formerly known as Research In Motion, started off by launching the then-popular [email protected] Pager 950 in 1998. It was only in 2000, that the company launched its first handheld smartphone called Blackberry 957 that featured the trademark QWERTY keyboard. This handset came with an always-connected e-mail with personal digital assistant functionality.
Soon enough, Blackberry became a status symbol for many and several loved it because of its instant messaging service called Blackberry Messenger or BBM, yes kind of like WhatsApp of 2005! To use BBM, you needed to own a Blackberry phone and pay for the subscription cost of the service! Sounds crazy right? Imagine a subscription for WhatsApp! The app allowed users to share voice notes, images and videos via a BlackBerry PIN. Turns out, asking for a Blackberry PIN was like asking a girl for her number at a party.
The Blackberry smartphones were flaunted by several celebrities including Barack Obama and Kim Kardashian. This celeb factor also added to the fame of the brand and reach a wider audience.
Apple just waltzed in and redefined the smartphone industry
It was all rainbows and unicorns for Blackberry until January 2007, when Apple’s then CEO Steve Jobs announced the first iPhone with a touchscreen. According to The Wall Street Journal, the smartphone called an “iPhone” looked illogical to rivals including RIM. Why? “The phone’s battery lasted less than eight hours, it operated on an older, slower second-generation network. It was expected that music, video and other downloads strained the AT&T’s network.” But the device did not fail to impress consumers in the US. Apple sold more than 1 million iPhones in its first three months during the summer of 2007, reported WSJ. This rattled the entire smartphone industry.
As an antidote to the touchscreen iPhone, RIM came up with a new smartphone called Blackberry Strom. This handset included a touchscreen and a QWERTY keyboard. Users could use a digital keyboard on the touchscreen, and they could even just slide the display upwards to use the physical keyboard. This did look like a breakthrough device for Blackberry as it sold 1 million units in just the first two months. However, in reality, the smartphone was half-baked and full of flaws. It was slow, the touchscreen did not respond well in the corners and the handset often froze and reset. And this was the reason when Blackberry realised that its success was short-lived.
Blackberry’s fall from grace
Blackberry’s distributor Verizon Communication Inc. asked the company to fix the issues with Storm or pay close to $500 million to cover the carrier’s losses. RIM then came up with different offers for the Storm users including a free repair and upgrade program. Sadly, it did not work out as planned. Verizon had to replace almost one million units and suffered a loss of $500 million. The Storm failed in the market miserably. With this, the world’s largest smartphone maker had lost its mojo.
The company focussed on launching more QWERTY keyboard smartphones with its BBZ OS but nothing worked. As if people were just not interested anymore. Apple became more and more popular while Blackberry stopped launching new phones and became stale.
In 2010, Blackberry launched its first Playbook tablet with good video qualities, QNX chipset, and more features but then too it got listed in the failed attempts by Blackberry. The lack of native email, calendar, and contacts applications was the reason behind this failure.
Why did it happen?
Blackberry was dethroned from its place in the smartphone market because of a few missteps. One of the reasons is its outdated operating system. Although the BlackBerry Operating System became popular in the 2000s, the introduction of iOS and Android was like a breath of fresh air to the consumers. Blackberry OS became old and outdated and the company did not update it much.
Another reason why it might have failed was that it did not focus on locking its consumers like Apple and Google. Blackberry could have still managed to hold on for longer if it had decided to let iPhone and Android users use the BlackBerry Messenger. This way it could have had a huge userbase.
Blackberry: A thing of past
In 2016, Blackberry announced that it will no longer make smartphones of its own. It reinvented itself as a security and software brand and started licensing its brand to third-party manufacturers like TCL. Its license ended in 2020 and got picked up by a Texas firm called OnwardMobility that had announced that it would launch a 5G-Android-powered Blackberry phone with a QWERTY keyboard in 2021 but it did not see the light of the day.
Not to mention, today is the day when Apple has crossed a $3 trillion market cap.
The post In the wake of BlackBerry: How one of the biggest smartphone maker in history fell from grace appeared first on BGR India.