How a moldy batch of BlackBerrys ruined the entire pie

Anna Scantlin
Contributing Editor from Kansas City, MO
Published: September 28, 2013

I'm sure I speak for many people whenever I mention in my articles that seeing BlackBerry, formerly known as Research In Motion,  going nowhere but down so quickly is difficult to watch. There is no beating around the BlackBerry bush anymore. The market share puts the Canadian company in last place, consumers aren't really interested in the platform anymore, and their executives can't figure out how to get the applications the majority of consumers want to see on the market. To put it bluntly, BlackBerry is having a very bad time getting back on the horse at this point and time.

And I know I can't be the only one that's a little... well, actually, I'm not really sure what the word I should use to describe how I feel about BlackBerry's current state. Perhaps just a little dismayed? We'll go with dismayed, because it doesn't quite sound so over-the-top but it gets the point across. I can't be the only one that's a little dismayed about the current state of BlackBerry. Perhaps it was because of all the hope I mistakenly put into the company last year when they started really ramping up the upcoming reveal of BlackBerry 10, but I think for the most part it's just knowing that the company didn't have to go this route. By being stuck in their old ways, it essentially brought the company down to its knees.

I was trying to think of what made BlackBerry so successful back then. Although BlackBerry was largely successful among businesses for their push e-mail services and of course BlackBerry Messenger, they were also pretty popular among your common consumer. I mean really, at the time you had to choose between BlackBerry, Windows Mobile or webOS. I was a pretty big fan of webOS, but BlackBerry unquestionably had better services to offer. And, as unbelievable as it might be, BlackBerry actually had a decent app store at the time. I mean, it was about as decent as you could get at the time. But that was the old smartphone world, and it was was soon eclipsed by the success that was iOS and Android. The smartphone world saw change, liked the change, and yet, like a noble knight, BlackBerry didn't falter from what BlackBerry wanted to do.

And by remaining the same, BlackBerry didn't exactly look like the noble knight that it was trying to be. It ended up more like the Black Knight from Monty Python and the Holy Grail. Stubborn and absolutely sure that whatever he is doing is right, and despite losing all of his limbs is still convinced that he has triumphed.

The problem with BlackBerry inevitably came down to applications and unwillingness to change. I'll admit, BlackBerry talked a pretty big game when it came to BlackBerry 10. 120,000 applications made for BlackBerry 10? That's nothing short of a good start. Too bad it wasn't too much later where we found out that 47,000 of them were made by one developer, which would have been all fine and dandy if they had been done well. Except for they hadn't. But we've had discussions here where it really boils down to the quality of the applications in the app store compared to the quantity, and most of you guys stated that you care more about quality rather than the amount of applications. It just so happens that BlackBerry went for the numbers route, and although their app store isn't completely abysmal it just doesn't have that "complete package" that people were expecting to see in a modern day smartphone.

BlackBerry essentially got away with being a mostly business phone back in the day because that's all we knew. You might have been lucky enough to get games like Pong or Tetris, but there were nowhere near the amount of entertainment applications that we see today. People use their smartphones today both for business and pleasure, and it's nothing short of inconvenient to have to carry around two separate phones for such occasions. Although BlackBerry 10 did come out with separate profiles so you could separate work and personal, you're still going to want to have the applications that people want to use in their personal time available so that their persoal profile isn't... well, empty.

BlackBerry's unwillingness to change can only get them so far these days. Unfortunately, their BlackBerry 10 OS just doesn't cut it for today's expectations. Of course you'll have some people here and there that will still stand by a company, especially if there is brand loyalty, but their abysmal marketshare price and the fact that they're going to be selling their company in about a month's time is what may be the unfortunate scenario that plays out for companies that are unwilling to change. Hopefully other companies can learn from this, because I for one would rather see more platforms rise than be crushed. But in order to do that, they have to be willing to change with the times.

Images via Sencha, N4BB

 

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