Death of Blackberry (Part 3 of 3 Part Series)

blackberry death crushed

No, not that blackberry, but rather the ubiquitous device synonymous with multi-tasking corporate executives since the ’90s.  I still remember hearing “dings” of a new email arrival every few seconds sitting in a meeting with Goldman honchos during my traveling consultant days.  Every one of them had what we called BBB (blackberry brick and believe me, it was as big as a brick).  The device popularity (or necessity) soared to new heights after 9/11 – when the wired and wireless lines crashed under an overwhelming volume during the crisis, BB servers were still working, allowing its users to communicate.

So what happened since then?  Research In Motion (RIM), BB’s parent company, recently announced substantial sub-par quarterly results, prompting exit of its founding executives and board members.  While its fairly new CEO, Thorsten Heins, did his best to reassure its workers, partners and shareholders, I believe BB is dead if nothing else for two main reasons below.

  • Reliability – despite being a partner in iPhone applications development company, I refused to give up my beloved BB.  For 3+ years, I carried both my BB Pearl and the latest version of iPhone.  Two phones, two carry-on clips, two rechargers – it was pain…   But when I had to replace my Pearl 3 times during the same time span due to faulty components, I just gave up and switch to the iPhone.
  • Consumer Appeal – while consumers wait in line outside the Apple stores for the latest and the greatest, it’s not the same for BB.  And why should they?  Both iPhones and Androids do a good job of implementing meaningful HW and functionality upgrades in new releases, you cannot say the same for BB.  Result – different versions that are essentially derivatives of the same product.  Bottom line – new models have no additional appeal to consumers.

There was a rumor that perhaps Samsung was looking to purchase RIM  – the deal fell through.  Apparently Samsung thought it would do better with its own line of smart phones.  I am afraid BB is walking down the same path that Motorola was on until it decided to adopt another operating system…   Obsolescence.

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About Richard Lee
Experienced finance and operations professional. Currently partner in five companies, adjunct professor of economics at Columbia College and executive contributor to a small business blog (www.SMBmatters.com); following corporate finance, M&A and management consulting tenures with Orbitz and Diamond Technology Partners; and six years of service with the United States Army.

5 Responses to Death of Blackberry (Part 3 of 3 Part Series)

  1. Nkb says:

    Nice, how do you like attaching documents when responding to emails on your iPhone? Or better yet, what do you do when you begin drafting your email and subsequently realize you needed to attach something? I guess “oops” is right.

    You compare an antiquated pearl phone to the “latest iPhone”. Why not try something like the Bold 9900? But then again, that’s how brain washing works.

  2. Richard Lee says:

    Hi Nikhil – good to hear from you. Fair point. Btw – the latest iPhone I referred to was the first iPhone since that’s when I was carrying both. I am sure Bold 9900 is great – unfortunately, I won’t get a chance to try it. Appreciate the comment.

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