From Leader To Loser: Why BlackBerry Failed?

Blackberry Failure

I still remember when my eyes dazzled by looking at a BlackBerry smartphone that my uncle bought. Then why BlackBerry failed suddenly?

BlackBerry once stood proudly as the best premium smartphone in the world. It had a loyal user base with true fandom in their hearts.

At its peak, BlackBerry had more than 85 million users in 2009-2010. At that time, it was having more than 50% of the US market share and 20% of the global market share.

Finally, BlackBerry started seeing its downfall from second half of 2010. It went to less than 5% market share in 2012.

In 2016, BlackBerry died a painful death when it only sold 0.2 million units globally as compared to 432 units sold by all the companies.

[Source: Business Insider]

BlackBerry was originally a Canadian brand but a Chinese company TCL bought BlackBerry in 2016.

Even TCL could not revive BlackBerry.

Finally, BlackBerry Smartphones completely died in 2020 after the official announcement made by TCL and BlackBerry Mobile.

But Why BlackBerry Failed?

BlackBerry was a no-nonsense company. It boasted its highest stock value of $230 at its peak point. Well, the same stock costs $4 now!

It feels bad that a dream smartphone brand went to rags in no time.

Here are some reasons why BlackBerry failed so terribly.

1] Hardware Innovation

BlackBerry has always been overpriced with its mediocre hardware. Initially, it might be an apple if an eye but it soon lost its glory to Apple.

Reason? Apple launched its first iPhone in 2007. It was a beautiful piece of technology with a complete touch screen body.

Even Samsung brought its touch screen smartphones. The beauty of these new phones was that they could close their screens at any time. Once your typing work is done, the keyboard would disappear giving you a huge screen.

However, the same iconic QWERTY keyboard of BlackBerry started proving as a curse for the brand. It was no longer appealing.

But instead of moving towards touchscreen phones, BlackBerry kept making its ugly keyboards and phones.

2] Operating System

BlackBerry Operating System was trash because it never allowed developers to come and develop apps on a mass scale. Any OS needs a free guide for developers to build apps for them.

The charm of iOS and Android was that they could be customized by adding or removing applications as per your need.

[You might like: iOS vs Android]

Developers and users were happier with iOS and Android. Meanwhile, BB kept pushing its own OS which was terrible.

BlackBerry jumped into the Android Market with its BlackBerry Priv in 2015 but it was too late.

BlackBerry Priv Android Smartphone

[Refer: BlackBerry Priv (2015)]

3] Target Audience

The main target audience for BlackBerry was an elite class. Businessmen, celebrities, and rich executives used to carry a BlackBerry proudly.

Why Businessmen used BlackBerry?

  • Strong security due to end-to-end encryption
  • Email services on the phone
  • Smart PDA (Personal Digital Assistant) that would let you run your business on the go

However, with the rise of iPhone sales, BlackBerry lost all its significance in one shot. An iPhone had everything.

On the other hand, BlackBerry mainly focused on the enterprise level market but it failed to appeal to the consumer segment.

[Find out: Why iPhones are expensive?]

Now, the majority of the smartphone market comes from the consumer segment and not from the enterprise market.

4] BlackBerry Messenger (BBM)

BlackBerry Messenger, aka, BBM is what made this smartphone company a brand.

BBM was an amazing instant messenger that was cool and simple to use. It overpowered Emails and SMS.

However, the biggest mistake was to keep it exclusive for BlackBerry smartphones instead of distributing on Android and iOS.

While Android and iOS users were finding the BBM alternatives, Whatsapp took birth in 2009. The rest is history.

BBM vs Whatsapp

Again, BBM made efforts to bring itself on Android and iOS in 2013 but it was late. Too late.
Finally, BBM closed itself for both Android and iOS in 2019.

Another painful death!

5] Research & Development (R&D)

The majority of the people say that BlackBerry failed because of the lack of innovation.

Is it a rocket science that a leading tech company doesn’t understand?

But do you know from where does this innovation come? Research and Development (R&D) and it requires money.

BlackBerry was having a series of failures with no money left for R&D purposes.

As a result, it could never move beyond its capacity. For the same reason, RIM sold the BlackBerry brand to the Chinese firm TCL.

Summary and Lessons From BlackBerry Failure Case Study [Timeline Infographic]

BlackBerry Timeline Infographic - Why BlackBerry Failed?

The major reason why BlackBerry failed as a smartphone manufacturer:

  1. Lack of innovation in hardware as well as software
  2. Focusing only on the enterprise market
  3. Slow decisions in the case of Android as well as BBM.
  4. Lack of R&D
  5. Kept selling overpriced smartphone units

Here, the last point is important. When you are an established player with an old legacy of premium tag on your name, it becomes difficult to switch.

BlackBerry could easily start focusing on the largest and price-sensitive market of consumers. They would even get their phones sold because of the brand name.

But some things are simple yet difficult to implement because of the old glory you have been through!

This is what happened to Nokia as well! Anyway, let’s keep Nokia for some other article.

[Also Check Out: 5 Reasons Why Xiaomi Became #1 Brand in India]

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