Blackberry CEO Thorsten Heins says to Bloomberg, “In five years I don’t think there will be a reason to have a tablet anymore.” In all likelihood, BlackBerry as it exists today won’t be around in five years. If you want a fascinating look at some of the hubris that brought the company to the position it’s in, check out this article from BGR back in 2011. This is a classic case of the innovator’s dilemma. In fact, on January 10th, 2007 –one day after the original iPhone’s announcement– RIM held several internal meetings where they comforted themselves by reassuring one another that the iPhone couldn’t be real.
For those keeping score, BlackBerry’s U.S. phone market share dropped down 81% in 2013 from 3.6% to 0.7%. Two short years ago, BlackBerry declared its PlayBook tablet as the end of amateur hour in tablets. They only sold about 2.4 million in two years. In comparison, Apple sold 19.5 million iPads in just their most recent quarter and have sold over 100 million of them since their introduction in 2010.
A lot can happen in five years. A lot can even happen in three years … in 2010, BlackBerry still had over 40% of the US phone market. 40% to under 1% in three years isn’t just a drop; it’s a nosedive.
It’s sad considering they were the must-have phone back in the pre-iPhone years. My first smartphone was a BlackBerry 7100g. I still have it in a drawer here somewhere. It’s still in great condition.
In May of 2005 when I got my 7100g, it was the best of both worlds. It could send email and browse the web at blazing EDGE speed. Every year or so, I would trade up to the next model. I would run beta versions of the OS to get features the carrier hadn’t provided yet like video recording. A little over two years later a phone would be released that would usher in an era that would strip both RIM and Nokia of their US phone market dominance seemingly overnight.
I still have a friend who is enamored with physical keyboards on phones. Notice I said “friend”. Singular. One. In fairness, he is the technological equivalent of an Amish person.
I still have a work issued BlackBerry and I use it if I’m traveling for the company and won’t be checking my email for a few days. Eventually, I’ll miss BlackBerry just like I miss bookstores and stores that sold CD’s.