The proverb ‘Survival of the Fittest’ somewhat strikes harder when we analyze the tech giant companies, their dominance period, and their ultimate downfall. Because it takes at least a few centuries for a species in the animal kingdom to evolve or become extinct. But in the world of technology, it happens overnight.
The name ‘BlackBerry’ was mouth to mouth a few years ago; now, their smartphones are out of the market, and the company has transformed itself into a cyber security provider. How did they reach the peak of success, and what made their drastic downfall?
Let’s start with the journey of this Canadian company from the very beginning. It began in 1984 with modems and pagers. The company was called RIM, short for Research in Motion. RIM was co-founded by childhood friends Mike Lazaridis and Douglas Fregin, focusing on wireless technology and solutions.
In 1990, RIM developed a wireless email solution that was the game changer. This was the foundation of Blackberry. They launched the BlakBerry interactive pager 950 in 1998 and pager 850 in 1999. From here on, their success skyrocketed. It took a good four years from the launch to entering the consumer market.
The first BlackBerry phone, the BlackBerry 957, was launched in 2000, and BlackBerry 5810 in 2002. The BlackBerry 5810 was the first to combine email, phone, and organizer functions, marking itself as the beginner of the Blackberry smartphone line.
2006, the Pearl series on BlackBerry was launched, and RIM entered the consumer market. However, a more significant event happened in the previous year as BlackBerry adopted the messaging system BBM, BlackBerry Messenger. It quickly became popular, contributing to the appeal of BlackBerry. It allowed users to send highly secure instant messages, images, and files.
They expanded their functionality in BES, BlackBerry Enterprise Server, and BlackBerry OS. They continued to add new products and advanced series of smartphones. Their Pearl, Curve, and Bold series were well-received and appreciated in the consumer market. And thereby, the year 2001 to 2007 was called the golden age of BlackBerry.
After the BBM, other mentionable features attracted the public’s attention. They offered highly secured email integration. One of the most interesting selling points of the BlackBerry phones was the physical QWERTY keyboard. That’s right. People went crazy over the tactile typing experience BlackBerry phones provided.
Last but not least, BlackBerry phones had strong security features and encryption. Government agencies, in the business sector, and the enterprise sector people preferred Blackberry phones for secure mobile communication.
Nevertheless, BlackBerry couldn’t evolve with the rapidly developing tech world. In the face of strong competitors like Apple and Androids, BlackBerry didn’t innovate enough, especially when the mainstream of touchscreen phones was forming. iOS and Android offered a huge range of app diversity to attract mass consumers. On the other hand, BlackBerry had a limited app ecosystem. So, people diverted towards Apple and Androids.
BlackBerry launched its first touchscreen phone, Storm, in 2008 to tackle the situation. Due to the prevailing reputation of BlackBerry, there were high initial sales. But complaints started to form soon. For the first time in a long time, investors started to worry about the future of Blackberry, and analysts and media started to worry about the business prospects.
In 2009, RIM was announced first among the top 100 fastest-growing companies, and in September 2010, according to Comscore, RIM held the largest market share in the US smartphone market. This was the highest point of success for RIM and BlackBerry ever. From here, their business went downhill.
The fall was more drastic than you can imagine. In 2010, RIM had a 37.3% market share, the highest of that time. Within only two years, in 2012, the share dropped to 7.3%. Still, BlackBerry was globally successful at that time. Soon, that was over, too. The year 2011 brought the worst fate for BlackBerry. The would-be game changer, BlackBerry 10, failed drastically. Several attempts to restore the previous image were made, which contributed little. In 2014, BlackBerry transformed itself from a mobile company to a mobile solution company.
BlackBerry is now a software-focused company providing cybersecurity and IoT services. Besides, BlackBerry Limited was formed to implement the secure encryption process of BlackBerry in protecting data for various industries. BlackBerry’s QNX software is used in various automobiles.
This year in May, the movie ‘BlackBerry’ was premiered across Canada. The movie depicts the astounding story of the birth of the first smartphone company, its unpredictable fortune, and its final downfall. It remains a great example of the unpredictableness of the highly dynamic tech sector.