BlackBerry, once the darling
of Canada, America and the corporate world elsewhere (including India) has
declared that it would not be making smartphones anymore. The company said it
would now focus on its software business and would outsource the handset
manufacturing requirements. So if a new BlackBerry handset comes in the market,
it would, per se, be not a BlackBerry - because BlackBerry was always a package
deal. Its success was steered as much by its communication software as it was
by its niche smartphones that made it a 'must have' for the corporate world.
BlackBerry also died in the
wave that came with iPhone, Samsung phones and Android iOS, like Nokia, though
the basics were different.
BlackBerry was always a
smartphone company with its encrypted software solutions that made it a must
have gadget for the corporate honchos, but something that ultimately became its
nemesis. Communication is the mainstay of any business operation and BlackBerry
targeted it. The strategy paid rich dividends initially. Its parent company,
Research In Motion's (RIM) shares zoomed to an all time high in 2008 and
Fortune had declared RIM as the fastest growing tech company in 2009.
But that was it. It was a
rapid decline after it.
The corporate and enterprise
focus that had brought glory to BlackBerry soon became a black-hole for it that
made every attempt to redo its strategies void - because the company was still
roaming in the wilderness of mobile phone devices with efficient messaging and
communication platforms (but not beyond it) while the new entrants were rapidly
ramping up the mobile phone marketplace with handheld computing devices that
would act as all-serving entertainment hubs - be it messaging or emails or
chats or complete web browsing or a never ending app ecosystem fuelling further
interest and engagement.
BlackBerry saw corporate
consumers and enterprises as its base while companies like Apple, Samsung and
Google saw consumers in everyone - be it a business leader or a politician or a
celebrity or a common man. And their product offerings were designed keeping
them in mind. They were able to cater to every class of consumer. So when a CEO
found that an iPhone or a Samsung phone with Android iOS could have provided
the comfort of communication that a BlackBerry device would provide and at the
same time would also act as a handheld computing device offering a world of
entertainment, he immediately switched to it. And BlackBerry's fall shows it,
indeed, was the case.
So, the company that was the
fastest growing tech company of 2009, was sold for less than $5 Billion in 2013
and it still hovering in the range of a market cap of $5 Billion - a meteoric
fall from a high of $83 Billion worth of market cap.
Though BlackBerry was a
masterly combination of hardware and software, like Nokia, it failed to read
the pulse of the market. Like Nokia, by the time BlackBerry realized where it
erred, it had become too late. Nokia failed to move on from feature phones to
smartphones while BlackBerry failed to move on from corporate-centric
smartphones to people-centric handheld entertainment hubs. It clung to its
trademark Qwerty smartphones too long, compromising on screen size and touch
function, features that were going to be the next common in the smartphone
market. By the time BlackBerry launched its first full touch-screen smartphone,
it had become too late and BlackBerry's move was seen as nothing but a poor
Apple imitation attempt.