At some point in time, after Nokia had reigned as one of the most successful companies, there was one other phone brand that we would continuously see: the BlackBerry. Every cool kid had it – and at that point, if you had it, you were likely as popular as any other kid today that has an iPhone.
However, nowadays, you do not hear much about BlackBerry. You hear about various other rising brands, new and old – but Blackberry became a ghost of the past. For a company that was selling as many as 50 million phones up until 2011, now it only occupies about 0.3% of the market. What happened – and why did BlackBerry lose its way? Well, this article will try to shed some light on that. Here are the main reasons why, according to consumers, BlackBerry did not succeed in keeping their spot on the throne.
They Did Not Innovate Quickly Enough
Now, we are not saying that BlackBerry did not innovate at all – the problem here is that they failed to innovate quickly enough. While Apple and the phones based on Android were all introducing new physical forms and operating systems, BlackBerry held its ground and gave people what they were used to. At the time, it seemed like a good idea. However, more and more people liked the idea of a touchscreen that incorporated keyboards – which is why they moved on from BlackBerry to other brands.
BlackBerry did not modify their operating system to match what the market had to give, nor did they change the physical shape of their phone. This affected their popularity – if half of the screen was missing because it was replaced with a keyboard, it felt like you were using an old phone from the past. It was like an overgrown old Nokia.
It took quite a long time for BlackBerry to come to the realization that physical keyboards did not make a lot of sense anymore. As smartphone users got used to the touchscreen, they no longer felt the appeal of the traditional kind. That being said, the company still defiantly sold products with these keyboards (namely, the Classic) in the hopes that the consumer would see it as a more efficient communication tool. Obviously, that did not happen, as the BlackBerry handsets still felt and looked outdated.
Eventually, they did release the BlackBerry Priv in 2016, which used a touchscreen system – but by that time, everyone else was using Android or iOS. With this late appearance, no one really gave much attention to BlackBerry anymore.
They Focused on Enterprise Rather than Consumers
When Android and Apple cell phones came onto the market, the focus was placed on the consumers. Millions of phones were sold, most of them being at an affordable price – and featuring a design that everyone could use. BlackBerry, on the other hand, reached success by selling it to the IT departments of big corporations – an action that gave them momentum and kept then high up for quite a bit.
However, with time, more and more people began investing in more sophisticated cell phones – not just enterprises. Indeed, they kept successful for a long time – but as the iPhone and other Android cell phones became more popular due to the consumers, BlackBerry was less and less purchased.
They Were Unable to Grow Their Consumer Sales
It is true, most of BlackBerry’s success came from the Enterprise – but this didn’t mean that they didn’t have a spot in the marketplace. They were there, set, and with a plot ready to be grown further. However, the problem was that they weren’t able to grow that plot any bigger.
Why would that happen, you ask? Well, in essence, it is because the consumers did not find the design as attractive as the one offered by iPhone or HTC, for example (the latter began to build quite some nice phones). At that point, very few people saw the BlackBerry as a “cool phone” anymore.
Indeed, the BlackBerry was a great tool. It was seen as a professional product that would give you access to email immediately – making it quite a useful phone. Still, it was very far from cool back in 2008. Facebook, Chat and YouTube were cool – and BlackBerry only began to develop these very late. By the time they added these apps to the system, the consumers had already flocked towards the other brands – causing BlackBerry to reach a stalemate of their consumer sales.
They Insisted on Their Own OS
Branding and holding onto what makes you unique is generally a good strategy, as it will make you special in comparison to other brands. It would give the consumer access to something that they did not normally have access to, making it convenient – but that meant that you also had to focus on what the consumer wanted.
One more fatal mistake that BlackBerry made was that they insisted on keeping their OS. The reason why smartphones became something huge was that you could download any app that you wanted at any moment. You could transform your phone into something magical in just a couple of seconds – and you had hundreds of apps (or more) to download from. You had games, you had productivity apps – and you even had apps that could turn your cell phone into a remote control.
They Underestimated Their Competition
One more thing that cost BlackBerry its crown was the fact that they underestimated the influence their competition had – specifically, Apple. Throughout countless interviews, the executives of Blackberry admitted that they failed to see Apple’s potential and how influential it would eventually become on the smartphone market. They believed that their rise was only temporary – and that eventually, they would lose their spot on the market.
However, the truth was different. Slowly (but surely), Apple caught the attention of the handset buyer, made very attractive deals for their mobile carriers, and created highly innovative products that people had no problem paying more for. In fact, all these features made the investment totally worth it – and because of this, BlackBerry lost most of its clientele to Apple.
They Had Many Difficult Management Shake-Ups
For quite some time, the co-CEOs Mike Lazaridis and Jim Balsillie were quite the successful chief executive duo when it came to mobile companies. However, after BlackBerry fell through, the shareholders began to lose their faith – and by 2012, they have appointed Thorsten Heins at the top seat.
Heins believed that he could change the success of the company by bringing the focus onto the fundamentals and creating new software and hardware. He also failed and was replaced by John Chen – who is currently still chief executive of BlackBerry. As the leader of Blackberry, Chen is trying to turn the company into an enterprise-focused one (once again) – but one that relies on software rather than hardware.
The mistakes that led to the fall of BlackBerry were a mix of various things. Some were strategic – others were due to not paying enough attention. Perhaps one of the main reasons was that BlackBerry failed to step in line with the market. In a time where consumers bring all the profits, one needs to give them exactly what they want in order to be successful – and perhaps Blackberry failed to see that people were loving the touchscreen system.
With all that said, it’s easy to talk about the failures of a company that is still worth almost a billion dollars. Don’t get it twisted, BlackBerry is still making money; it’s just they had a real chance at being what Apple is today (just about 1.3 Trillion…).