BlackBerry posted its Q1 earnings Friday morning, and to say that it disappoints is a mild understatement. Its subscriber base has slimmed down, and it is failing to get any traction against iOS and Android. Moreover, BBM, or BlackBerry Messenger, is delayed until late summer, where it wouldn't be totally out of the question to be disappointed once more by further delays. As a consumer, do you feel like BlackBerry is dead to you?
Just shy of five years ago, I was all about BlackBerry. During the summer of 2008, I was using an iPhone 3G and a BlackBerry Curve 8810. Or an 8820, I can't really remember. Shortly afterward, I got rid of my iPhone for the HTC Fuze, a Windows Mobile 6.1 device. Gross. But, I kept my BlackBerry along for the ride. Then, in November 2008, my boss at BGR gave me a BlackBerry Bold 9000 as a gift. It was amazing.
The Bold 9000 completely shifted my appreciation for BlackBerry and RIM with a gorgeous new design, a sharp and vivid color display, excellent battery life and a killer keyboard. It had a new OS with new icons and a whole list of new notification sounds and ringtones. I ended up switching to so many other devices, but I kept that phone with me. Then came the Bold 9700, and I upgraded to that one, and it would also be the last time I ever owned a BlackBerry device ever again.
The thing with BlackBerry is that it has been so out of touch and two steps behind its competition. I'd say that Windows Phone is a better experience overall, and that didn't launch until Fall 2010. Clearly, BlackBerry has had more than just a few missteps. It started with the same hubris shared with Microsoft when the original iPhone launched. Former RIM executives scoffed at a full, touch screen display. They thought that there was no way the display and keyboard would work as well as it was advertised or demonstrated. They thought that battery life would be atrocious. Then a unit fell into their hands and they were left scratching their heads -- how on earth did Apple manage to make that happen?
Its first answer to the iPhone was the BlackBerry Storm. It tried to satisfy keyboard lovers by giving the screen a clicking mechanism, one that would ultimately prove to be tedious in practice when cranking out e-mails and messages. Its successor didn't do much better, probably because the Storm name and experience was already tarnished by the first model.
As the years went by, the BlackBerry OS began showing its age. The BlackBerry Torch was an unusable joke, so it wasn't like hardware was faring much better, either. During the presentation for the Torch in New York City, Mike Laziridis proudly showed off BlackBerry's commitment to carriers, helping minimize the transmission of data and the conservation of battery life. It was a sign that the company's strategy and focus was way off the mark, and eventually it suffered.
Fast forward to just a few months ago, and we have the BlackBerry Z10, a nice piece of hardware with a nice piece of OS. BlackBerry 10 had made its debut, along with the Z10 and Q10, the latter for QWERTY keyboard lovers, and it seemed like BlackBerry was finally headed in the right direction. But it turns out that flame was just a flicker, and the BlackBerry ecosystem was still suffering from a lack of high quality apps. The results are evident in its sales numbers and declining user base.
There must be a little more than a handful of you who are still loyal BlackBerry fans. Maybe your loyalty is waning. What I'd like to know is what it will take for you, our dear readers and friends, to switch to BlackBerry or to keep from straying and jumping ship for Android or iOS. It saddens me that I was such a die-hard Crackberry addict, and now I don't think I'd take a BlackBerry Z10 even if it were handed to me for free.
What about you? Is BlackBerry dead to you?