The smartphone maker is to stop manufacturing what was once a must-have device for business users. Research In Motion (RIM), which pioneered the mobile email market with a device that dominated the corporate market, said the BlackBerry 10 was its “last chance.”
Since the introduction of BlackBerry in 1999, its maker, Research In Motion Ltd., has been one of the hot stocks on the Toronto Stock Exchange. Now, at least in the United States, that era is ending.
After years of watching its market share dwindle, Research In Motion said on Wednesday that it was getting out of the consumer market and focusing on corporate customers. That’s a shift from its earlier stance: RIM was still fighting to maintain its position in the consumer market as recently as last year.
RIM’s decision came after a series of setbacks for its BlackBerry 10 smartphone operating system. As a result, the company announced at a developers’ conference in May that it would delay the release of its next generation of phones until early next year.
The company also lost high-profile partners such as Walt Disney Co.’s Marvel Entertainment and German retailer Metro AG. Now it’s losing some longtime users who say they’re ready for something new.
But what about people who are still loyal to their BlackBerry devices? What should they expect when their contracts run out? Of course, RIM’s decision won’t affect those who have already switched over to iPhones or Android devices.
The Rise And Fall Of Blackberry
BlackBerry was once synonymous with smartphones — the first smartphones. It became popular with government workers and doctors because it was more secure than either PCs or feature phones, such as the Motorola Razr, which couldn’t send emails or connect to the Internet without a separate mobile hot spot device.
But BlackBerry’s reign as the king of mobile email came to an abrupt end in 2007 with the introduction of Apple’s iPhone, which brought internet browsing and multimedia messaging capabilities to consumers for the first time.
The company enjoyed early success, but its attention was captured by what would grow into a hugely profitable business: making mobiles that the company could use. Its distinctive keyboard made it hugely popular with business users, who found typing easy and emails fast to send.
It wasn’t just about corporate users, BlackBerrys were status symbols for young professionals, and their popularity increased. But with popularity came challengers, and Apple’s iPhone took center stage as a consumer hit. By 2013, RIM’s sales had slumped by more than 50%. As a result, its share price plummeted from almost $200 to less than $15.
A year later, it was in administration after failing to find a buyer or agree with its creditors. It announced 4,500 job cuts and warned there could be more to come.
The number of BlackBerry users has been falling steadily.
Why did BlackBerry fail?
If you’re a BlackBerry user, you probably had a hard time getting used to Android and iOS. However, if you’re expecting a comeback from BlackBerry to the mobile industry, we have bad news: it’s not going to happen.
The problem is simple: BlackBerry doesn’t have the software or hardware to compete with Android and iOS. Next, we discuss why it fails in both departments.
First, let’s talk about its software: BlackBerry OS was always good because it was straightforward to use. The interface was clean, with simple icons and menus. For those who were new to smartphones, BlackBerry OS made everything easy to understand and navigate.
The problem is that Android and iOS are both more advanced. For example, they can run multiple apps simultaneously, unlike BlackBerry OS. They also have better notifications, widgets, customization options; they can run on more giant screens and more features that are useful. Meanwhile, BlackBerry OS is still stuck with its outdated interface, which can only display one app at a time (or two if you turn off the keyboard).
BlackBerry had to lay off thousands of staff last year and leave Canada. A consortium that included Prem Watsa’s Fairfax Financial Holdings Limited and private equity firm Brookfield Asset Management purchased it. The company continued operations under its new owners under the “BlackBerry” brand before announcing this week that it would be formally dropping the name from future products.
We Still Can’t Believe It
We still need to wrap our heads around the news and aren’t prepared to accept that the Blackberry era is ending. If you feel the same way and need a distraction from the sad news, check out Windstream Phone for phone services that suit your talk time.