How BlackBerry lost the empire

by Volker Weber

BlackBerry never had a successful smartphone. Their commanding market share was built on rather simple messaging devices and an architecture that allowed customers to tie into their internal, walled-off mail infrastructures.

When iPhone launched in 2007 the writing was on the wall. This was not a highly efficient device with a long battery life and super low demand on network bandwidth. This was a real computer with a web browser, always connected. It brought down the AT&T network and other carriers around the world. They had to invest into their networks and iPhone paved the way for real smartphones.

When BlackBerry finally caught up with BlackBerry 10, it was too late. If you develop apps, you don't want yet another platform. You are busy doing Android and iOS. No software, no customers.

And in the enterprise space BlackBerry made a major mistake. BES5 would handle all old BlackBerrys, but BlackBerry 10 demanded a new BES10 server. And BES5 was not upgradable to BES10. You had to make an enterprise sale to deploy a new architecture. And an enterprise sale takes years.

BES12 rectified this situation, somewhat. But again, it did not help the BB10 platform since customers had long started deploying iPads. When you safely handle iPads, you can also handle iPhones. There was no need for BB10.

Then last year, BlackBerry changed course again with their Android initiative. Making a super expensive PRIV was probably not a smart idea. Sales just did not add up. And when DTEK50 shipped, I told you this does not feel like BlackBerry at all. It's a secure Android device with a berry on the back.

We can take a lesson from this. BlackBerry could not transition from the super successful initial BlackBerry platform to BB10 and then Android. Palm could not successfully launch the webOS platform. Nokia could not take their Symbian success and make it on Windows Phone. And I will give you another one: GoPro will not be able to take their action camera success and battle DJI in the drone space.

Will BlackBerry succeed in the software space? I don't know. Companies who retire their BlackBerrys are likely to also retire the vendor. Buying Good was a smart move. Because that is where many customers are swimming. And they will be surprised to find BlackBerry at this beach.

Comments

I wonder what would have happened if Microsoft had bought Blackberry and not Nokia.

Ian Bradbury, 2016-09-28

Sorry about being slightly off-topic, but because you mentioned GoPro and DJI as another (interesting) example: Who has made the most successful YouTube videos about Karma and Mavic? As BB start to had some hard times delivering press examples of their new devices the signals were set.

Peter Meuser, 2016-09-29

Disagree.

Volker Weber, 2016-09-29

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I explain difficult concepts in simple ways. For free, and for money. Clue procurement and bullshit detection.

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