Research in Motion, the Canadian company which produces BlackBerry phones and tablets, has recently put itself up for sale following increasing financial difficulties.
The company which was once at the top of the industry may very well not exist within a matter of months, unless a buyer is found who is able to perform miracles for the brand.
Bid Farewell To Blackberry?
BlackBerry, along with Nokia and Microsoft, was one of the companies that were slow to adapt to the new smartphone market that emerged after the launch of the first iPhone back in 2007.
While once it had been one of the most dominant businesses in the industry, and was even one of the first companies to popularize the idea of the all-encompassing smartphone, its fall from grace was quite rapid.
BlackBerry was much slower to react
But while Nokia and Microsoft recognised the need for a drastic change in their business models, BlackBerry was much slower to react, instead preferring to focus more intently on some of its core strengths such as BlackBerry Messenger. But while this messaging service remained popular with younger phone users it was quickly made redundant by a number of apps appearing on iOS and Android, and Apple’s own iMessage system.
BlackBerry had long positioned itself as the phone company of choice for business customers, but this reputation was quickly replaced by one of cheap texting phones for adolescents with little disposable income.
Some major PR disasters such as the 2011 server failure which rendered most BlackBerry services unusable, as well as the fatal stabbing of a party goer at one of its launch events in London, only served to undermine the company’s reputation further.
Blackberry in 2013
At the start of this year RIM launched its new BB10 operating system and a number of vastly improved handsets to accompany it including the Z10. There is no doubt that BlackBerry has finally responded to the needs of the market and the desire of consumers, and BB10 does contain some highly novel features.
Yet most consumers can’t help but feel that the BlackBerry brand is a sinking ship, and one that they don’t wish to get on board.
Gone are the days when phones were a self-contained gadget. When you purchase a modern smartphone, you do not just purchase that device but you also buy into its ecosystem, whether that be iOS, Android, Windows Phone, or something else. All three of those operating systems are now performing healthily, and consumers can have confidence in investing in what they have to offer.
Buying an Android handset now, and spending money on accessories and apps, you can be safe in the knowledge that these can be transferred to your next smartphone purchase should you wish to continue with that OS.
While the new BB10 operating system does suffer from a severe shortage of apps, this same problem is experienced by Windows Phone when compared to its more established competitors Android and iOS. Microsoft has recently launched an initiative, called App Builder Rewards, in an attempt to encourage more app developers to produce apps and services for Windows Phone.
But while smartphone consumers may be unwilling to jump on a sinking ship, the same applies to app developers who may be unwilling to spend time and money developing an app for an operating system and phone brand which may no longer exist this time next year. These developers can have some confidence that Windows Phone will still be around, even if they might make more money from iPhone users, but developing for BlackBerry does not seem worth the effort.
Sad Things About BlackBerry
The sad thing is that the new BlackBerry OS and the phones that accompany it are actually pretty good, but they don’t really offer anything new that can’t be found on leading competitors – competitors which many consumers have developed a fond attachment to.
Perhaps the one way that BlackBerry could claw its way out of this mess would be to focus on the section of the market that has not yet embraced the smartphone market, and attract new customers who have not yet built up an emotional bond with any particular phone brand. But with even Samsung and Apple struggling to increase their sales in over-saturated markets, this prospect seems very unlikely.