Once upon a time, the Blackberry from RIM was the most popular and prestigious device to own in the emerging class of products known as smartphones. People used to joke about the “Crackberry” addiction. Having a Blackberry put you in league with the world’s power elite in business and government.
No more. Beginning with the introduction of iPhone in 2007 and Android based phones in 2008, the Blackberry share of the mobile device market has steadily dwindled. Considering recent news, you have to wonder if the end is near.
Look at these headlines from just today:
- Blackberry Sales Tumble 45% in $965M 2Q Loss (Bloomberg)
- T-Mobile U.S. Stops BlackBerry Retail (Zacks Equity Research)
- Silver Lake boss on buying BlackBerry: No thanks (CNBC)
- Outrage over executive pay at BlackBerry (CNBC)
- Gartner to IT shops: Game over for BlackBerry (Computerworld)
Funny thing though, the RIM stock is actually up today because their losses are not as bad as the market expected. Go figure! Day to day market often seem to defy logic, which is one reason I got out of investment sales 30 years ago!
Still, I expect that if the company survives it will end up being a semblance of its former self. It will probably retreat entirely from the smartphone market and is currently up for sale.
This is a cautionary tale for any company that achieves iconic status, especially in the technology field. Times change and they can change quickly. Today’s generation has long forgotten technology giants like Wang, Digital Equipment, Sperry and Lotus. But wasn’t it just yesterday that Netscape, MySpace and Infoseek ruled the web?
Even companies like IBM and Microsoft, who took their turns at dominating the technological, business world have lost much of their luster. Their names no longer have the meaning in the cultural zeitgeist as they did at their peak.
If Blackberry, the once king of smartphones is dead, then long live the new kings. The consumer market for tech is like a fickle lover, quick to change the object of its affections. In this very competitive world, folks at Samsung. Apple, Google and other pretenders to the throne will have to work the royal rears off to be kings of the hill.
That makes the demise of Blackberry not so much a tragic tale, but the price of progress.