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The Blackberry case: 2 business mistakes
Jan 31, 2022 6:58:38 PM5 min read

The Blackberry case: 2 business mistakes

The mobile phone market is one of the most dynamic since the first wireless device was invented, back in the early 1990s. And to this day it remains in constant evolution with launches of increasingly sophisticated and intelligent cellphones that are practically miniature computers inside that, in many cases, are more efficient and have a higher response speed than PCs or netbooks.

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As if it were a school, some companies got an A in terms of applying innovative technologies to their devices, while others fell by the wayside due to poor decisions or indecisions that resulted in late implementations.

Commercial errors, like Nokia, generated large monetary losses for Blackberry, a very traditional cell phone company that we will talk about today.


Android and iPhone once again

Similar to the Nokia case, the Blackberry case also shows that resisting change can trigger catastrophic consequences for the permanence and success over time of any multinational that sells cell phones.

Both companies relied on the loyalty of their customers instead of better studying the market, the new technological trends, and the renewed demands of consumers who expected much more from Blackberry cell phones, knowing that Android and iPhone were dominating the market with tempting and innovative proposals.

The difference between Blackberry and Nokia is that the former did not even seek to establish commercial and strategic alliances to win the battle against the competition, but instead, prey to obstinacy made wrong decisions in desperation not to continue losing market share since Steve Jobs introduced the first iPhone as the new touchscreen smartphone.

After a considerable drop in the sales of its cell phones, at the end of June 2016, the production of all devices that operated with Blackberry OS 10 was discontinued. However, the Blackberry Priv, the only device available with Android, was still marketed which was mainly used by the members of the American parliament until its obsolescence.


Blackberry's first mistake: Blackberry Messenger

Blackberry Messenger or BBM was a messaging application created by Blackberry Limited for its Blackberry smartphones, which as of October 21, 2013, was extended to Android, IOS, and Windows Phone operating systems.

Messages sent through Blackberry Messenger were sent using a PIN, so communication was only possible between two Blackberry devices running Android, IOS, or Windows Phone.

The extension to the operating systems was interesting, but the limitation of messaging reserved for Blackberry devices weighed more heavily than having Android or IOS since it excluded people who did not have Blackberry to enjoy this system of instant messaging.

However, over time, users realized that it was simply not convenient for them to have a Blackberry when the new phones of other more competitive brands began to incorporate WhatsApp and could message without problems from cell phones of different brands without the need to add any numerical pin. 

Consequently, in 2019, the Blackberry Limited company announced on its official website that the BBM messaging service would come to an end after many customers migrated to other much more accessible and complete messaging services.


Blackberry's second mistake: keeping the physical QWERTY keyboard

The Blackberry cell phone became famous for incorporating a physical QWERTY keyboard that was a great innovation in those years when cell phones with physical keyboards that contained several letters and numbers on the same key prevailed. For the first time, technology brought the user an experience that was increasingly similar to that of a hand-sized computer.

For businesses, this phone provided several benefits beyond the keyboard itself. It offered greater data security and privacy which was very important in the business world.

But as often happens when a sweeping success is achieved, the Blackberry company rested on its laurels until one day one of RIM's CEOs had an unexpected revelation that surprised him.

In a television show, Steve Jobs proudly presented the iPhone and realized that the technology vastly surpassed the Blackberry with a never-before-seen large touchscreen QWERTY keyboard and data connection. Frustration not only invaded him, but he also disbelieved in its effectiveness.

When he finally understood that there were no tricks, moved by the despair of snatching Apple the podium of the monster it had created, he wanted to replicate the technology in a phone with similar characteristics, but with very poor results.

Blackberry's new mobile, called Project Storm, was not only very expensive but the touch screen worked very poorly and the users who bought it ended up returning it. But in addition to being a poor quality cell phone, it had been created in a period longer than that set by the company, and even so the final product was completely disappointing. It was the beginning of the decline of the Blackberry brand.


The reborn

Although the Blackberry case seemed like the chronicle of a death foretold, this year, like a Phoenix, the mythical original QWERTY phone seeks to return to the market with a renewed design, larger screen, and 5G connectivity. A strong bet for nostalgics with all the benefits of the standard devices that lead the telephony market.

Everything indicates that Blackberry Limited began to understand the true needs of customers and not make interpretations of what the company believed people were looking for, but what people expected from a Blackberry of the future. An identity stamp with modern technology.

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Finally, the Blackberry case closely resembles the Nokia case even in the quest for the brand renaissance. The two sinned of pride being at the top of the cusp and fell apart for resisting change.

But sometimes the secret of permanence does not lie in generating great changes from one day to the next, as these two companies wanted to promote, but rather promoting constant updates that respond to everyday demands.

To compete with an invention as superlative as the iPhone, perhaps creating another iPhone from Blackberry or Nokia was not the answer that the loyal customers of these companies wanted, and it took them more than 10 years to discover it. The good news is that it is not too late to repair the error and, like the great warriors in battle, get up to continue fighting for victory.


Drew's editorial team

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