The fall of Blackberry

Published: December 27, 2011

RIM thought that it was invincible. No more.

Research in Motion (RIM) is a smartphone manufacturing Canadian firm, which has been operating since 1999. Its product, the Blackberry, is currently the fourth most popular smartphone in the world, with 11.7% of the market share. It sits behind Ericsson, Google, and Apple.

This is surprising because Blackberry started as the market leader, introducing push e-mail, internet faxing, web browsing, and other wireless information services back in 2003. It started off as a professional smartphone and soon gained commendable publicity worldwide. However, lately the BlackBerry’s popularity has been declining significantly and it is losing market share, especially to the Android and iOS.

So, how is Blackberry losing its market share?

Starting from the recent outage of Blackberry services in October 2011 nothing good has happened for RIM. An open letter to the CEO came up, addressing the failure of Blackberry’s PR, and since then, things just seem to be going downhill for the company. New launches have not been very successful, and nearly 60% of Blackberry users in the US want to switch to either the Android or Apple by the end of next year.

Let’s and see how it all started. RIM was Wall Street’s baby until 2007, when Apple launched its first iPhone and Google introduced the Android. It was to RIM’s severe detriment that it never felt the need for any real innovation. Blackberry users, who were using the same technology for years, were craving change and this fell in their laps through the Android and Apple. Blackberry still did not recognise the need of the hour (innovation) and, assuming they were invincible, continued to provide the same services to their customers. This is where it all began. RIM never felt the need to market their product intensely and other companies took advantage of their over-confidence.

According to Michael Mace:

“In my opinion, RIM’s real problems centre around two big issues: its market is saturating, and it seems to have lost the ability to create great products. This is a classic problem that eventually faces most successful computer platforms. The danger is not that RIM is about to collapse, but that it’ll drift into in a situation where it can’t afford the investments needed to succeed in the future. It’s very easy for a company to accidentally cross that line, and very hard to get back across it.There’s a lesson in RIM’s situation for every tech company, so it’s worthwhile to spend some time understanding what’s happening.”

Why is Blackberry failing as a product?

Primarily, it is the lack of  innovation that is leading Blackberry to face such a rapid decline. Most smartphone users have even labelled RIM’s upcoming launches as ‘boring’ since they are so one-dimensional. The other reason is the lack of applications the Blackberry offers its users.

It seems that developers don’t like the idea of making applications for this phone – an idea that is in strong contrast to Apple. Since its debut in 2009 only 26,000 Blackberry applications have been developed as of April 2011. The Blackberry’s core competence were its push e-mail and BBM (Blackberry Messenger Service), but lately almost all mobile phones come with the push e-mail facility whereas the new iMessage introduced by Apple is gunning for BBM services. The leg up that RIM once boasted is long gone. It is at level ground with competing firms that are putting up cut-throat competition.

What should Blackberry do to strike back?

The Blackberry OS 7 is already in trouble despite the fact that it is yet to be released. RIM’s future looks blurry, with no real hope, as it has already lost the competitive advantage that BBM gave it. However, there are certain things which could be done to save the company. As Michael Mace says,

“To fix their problems, RIM needs to create rigorous up-front planning processes in its software team, with someone who has dictatorial power placed in charge of overall software integration for a device or OS release. Also, the product manager needs to be empowered (actually required) to delay shipment of a product if it’s not right. I’m sure someone at RIM knew about the problems in the Torch. The fact that the company went ahead and shipped it is almost as disturbing as the problems themselves.”

What the Blackberry needs is visionary innovation; without this they will be buried with the new launches of Apple and Android. They are competing in a very fast-moving market, and advantage-creating and enhancing capabilities is the only way to ensure that they will still be in and ahead of the game. The company also needs to change its development process to guarantee proper design and integrate all products. There’s a lot of work that needs to be done if the Blackberry wants to stay in the game, let alone reclaim its lost market share.

Muhammad Umair Maqsood

Muhammad Umair Maqsood

An internet marketing consultant with his expertise in SEM, SMO, SEO, SMM and Content Marketing. Technology inspires him, internet marketing is his passion and writing is what he envies the most. He runs a blog Techknowlogists, which is a blend of technology and internet marketing. He tweets as @UmairMaqsood (twitter.com/UmairMaqsood)

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • http://www.unlockworldwide.com unlockworldwide

    I’m pleased to read a balanced report on BlackBerry’s prospects. It’s evident that RIM top management are not (or are no longer) up to the task. It may take a buyout, a merger or a palace coup to regenerate the once vibrant company.
    However, notwithstanding the onslaught from Apple, the wealth of Google, there remain millions of dedicated BlackBerry believers.

    What is more fundamental will be the answer to the next great question; what will a smarter smart phone BE. Who will conceive it? Where will it emerge?

    BlackBerry (RIM) may simply be on the edge of the same precipice as Apple or Android. There was a time when we were all in awe of the IBM typewriter.Recommend

  • Sahar

    If I hear or read the word innovation one more time my head will roll off my shoulders screaming. Got the point. RIM LACKS innovation! Geez. Terribly written article. Sounds like 5th graders school essay. I’m sure my 7 week old son could do a better job. Recommend

  • Ibrahim

    The BB OS 7 has been out for months, my dear fellow. How can you say it is yet to com out? They are now working on releasing BB 10, which was initially named BB Os X, and they had to change the name because of a lawsuit.

    Trivial mistakes like these makes one wonder the authenticity of an article and wonder whether its a copy-paste job.Recommend

  • Raja Nowshewan Kiani

    Thnx for coming up with such an informative peace of writingRecommend

  • Iftakhar Mahesar

    *In the introductory lines you wrote that “Blackberry, is currently the fourth most popular smartphone in the world behind Ericsson, Google, and Apple”. I just wanted to ask you. Since when did Google start making cellphones? Let alone being more popular than BB? *Recommend

  • Ch Allah Daad

    Very well written article, thanks.Recommend

  • Ray Lowry

    Thank you for a very thorough explanation of their problem. I hope they can turn this situaton around. I use both a Blackberry and Droid phone. For emails and general messaging I much prefer the Blackberry! Recommend

  • fahad

    innovation innovation innovation!

    innovation : how can you say they don’t have visionary innovation? you say their phones
    are crap and still their phones are most sought after and their idea have been accepted
    by the market at large !!

    innovation : have you compared the the old BB series with the latest one ?

    I-Phone push email ? can pop3 email be pushed into i-phone?

    do you know what BES is?

    Blackberry sits behind Ericsson ? when did this happen? how can you say this?
    are you comparing BB to Sony Ericssion Xperia? how can you do that? haha

    Are you aware of the Blackberry Craze among Arabs!!!

    Still many Business Executives wont switch over to I-phone , yes they wont!! , the initial target market!!

    how come you are not aware Samsung is in the scene with their galaxy series!!! i would
    love to read anything on ” Galaxy vs iphone”

    i know you have put an effort to writer this all , but you could have simply said blackberry has limited apps which everyone is aware of.Recommend

  • Umair Ali Rashid

    A poorly researched article. RIM does not need innovation, it needs to get its top house in order. They have all the resources to keep up with the high-paced cellular market, “innovation” included.Recommend

  • Brandon

    There is another serious problem with RIM products that this overlooked in this article; reliability. I have known many people who used blackberry smartphones, only to have them die well before their contract term is up, forcing them to buy a new phone at full cost. I am thankful I waited to jump on the smartphone bandwagon and got an Android phone. Every single person I know that still uses a Blackberry cant wait to switch.

    R.I.P. RIM, you had your time.Recommend

  • Abhi

    Many BB supporters. I think BB era is over, unless they comeup with something new totally different smart phone, it will be difficult to stay in the market.Recommend

  • HH

    In Pakistan, BB’s market only consists of top business people and middle-to-top-management corporate executives. And they may continue to use BB. BUT, beyond that, RIM can hardly attract any consumers.Recommend

  • http://smskiirlaenud.blogspot.com/ Laur

    Seems like Blackberry is still very popular, one of my sites is on 12th page in search for Bold 5 but getting 25-30 visits a day for this keywordRecommend