In the wake of BlackBerry: how one of the biggest smartphone makers in history fell from grace


My last memory of a Blackberry phone is from a Liam Neeson movie called Unknown Where the actor who uses (and pretends to be!) a Blackberry phone hunts down bad guys. Well, sure, in 2011 owning a BlackBerry phone was considered cool back, but after today, they’ll be nothing more than paperweights.

If you think seriously, these handsets have almost disappeared from the market. And as the last nail in the coffin, the company has announced that its phones and tablets running BlackBerry OS will “no longer work reliably”.

According to an official statement, “devices running legacy services and software through a carrier or Wi-Fi connection will no longer function reliably, including data, phone calls, SMS, and 9-1-1 functionality.”

For those who don’t know it yet, Blackberry was once the Apple of the smartphone market. Sadly, an era has come to an end for the smartphone titan that pioneered wireless email today, as it has lost the battle for its life. The company went into recession after the arrival of Apple’s first iPhone in 2007, but little did they know that this was the beginning of their downfall.

The story of a time when Blackberry used to rule the smartphone market

Blackberry is a Canadian firm, formerly known as Research in Motion, started in 1998 by launching the then popular Inter@active pager 950. It was only in 2000, that the company launched its first handheld smartphone called Blackberry 957 which contained the trademark. QWERTY keyboard. The handset came with an always-connected e-mail with personal digital assistant functionality.

Soon, Blackberry became a status symbol for many and many people preferred it because of the instant messaging service called Blackberry Messenger or BBM, yes like WhatsApp of 2005! To use BBM, you must own a Blackberry phone and pay the subscription cost of the service! Sounds crazy doesn’t it? Imagine subscribing to WhatsApp! The app allowed users to share voice notes, pictures and videos via BlackBerry PIN. Turns out, asking for a Blackberry PIN was like asking a girl for her number at a party.

Blackberry smartphones were showcased by many celebrities including Barack Obama and Kim Kardashian. This celeb factor also added to the brand’s fame and reach to a wider audience.

Apple just entered 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 wall street journal, the smartphone called “iPhone” seemed illogical to rivals, including RIM. Why? “The phone’s battery lasted less than eight hours, making it work on older, slower second-generation networks. It was expected that music, video, and other downloads would strain AT&T’s network.” But the device did not fail to impress the consumers in the US. Apple sold more than 1 million iPhones in its first three months during the summer of 2007, reported WSJ, This has stirred the entire smartphone industry.

Apple CEO Steve Jobs launched the first iPhone in 2007.

As an antidote to the touchscreen iPhone, RIM came up with a new smartphone called the Blackberry Storm. The handset included a touchscreen and a QWERTY keyboard. Users can use the digital keyboard on the touchscreen, and they can also slide the display upwards to access the physical keyboard. It looked like a breakthrough device for BlackBerry as it sold 1 million units in the first two months. However, in reality, the smartphone was half-baked and full of flaws. It was slow, the touchscreen didn’t respond well in corners, and the handset often froze and reset. And that was when BlackBerry realized its success was short-lived.

Blackberry Storm, Blackberry, Apple

Blackberry Storm

blackberry fall

Verizon Communications Inc., the distributor of BlackBerry, asked the company to pay close to $500 million to fix issues with the Storm or cover the carrier’s losses. RIM then came up with a variety of offers for Storm users, including a free repair and upgrade program. Sadly, it didn’t work out as planned. Verizon had to replace approximately one million units and lost $500 million. The storm in the market failed miserably. With this, the world’s largest smartphone maker had lost its mojo.

The company focused on launching more QWERTY keyboard smartphones with its BBZ OS but nothing worked. As if people were no longer interested. Apple became more and more popular while Blackberry stopped launching new phones and went stale.

In 2010, BlackBerry launched its first PlayBook tablet with good video qualities, QNX chipset, and more features, but it was nevertheless listed among BlackBerry’s unsuccessful attempts. The lack of native email, calendar and contacts applications was the reason for this failure.

Why does this happen?

Blackberry was ousted from its place in the smartphone market due to some missteps. One reason for this is its outdated operating system. Although the BlackBerry operating system became popular in the 2000s, the introduction of iOS and Android was a breath of fresh air for consumers. Blackberry OS got old and outdated and the company did not update it much.

Another reason it failed was because it didn’t focus on locking down its consumers like Apple and Google. If BlackBerry decided to let iPhone and Android users use BlackBerry Messenger, BlackBerry might still have managed to last longer. This way it could have a huge userbase.

Blackberry: a thing of the past

In 2016, BlackBerry announced that it would no longer make smartphones of its own. It re-established itself as a security and software brand and began to license its brand to third-party manufacturers such as TCL. Its license expired in 2020 and was picked up by a Texas firm called OnwardMobility that announced it would launch a 5G-Android-powered BlackBerry phone with a QWERTY keyboard in 2021, but it didn’t see the light of day.

Not to mention, today is the day Apple surpassed the $3 trillion market cap.

The post in the wake of BlackBerry: How one of the biggest smartphone makers in history fell from grace appeared first on BGR India.

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