In many ways, BlackBerry was the producer of the world’s first widely adopted premium smartphone brand. At its peak, Blackberry owned over 50% of the US and 20% of the global smartphone market, sold over 50 million devices a year. Today, BlackBerry has a 0% share of the smartphone market. How did BlackBerry fall from such soaring heights?
In 1984 (as Research in Motion), BlackBerry was founded and was originally a developer of connectivity technology like modems and pagers. In 2000, the company introduced its first mobile phone product in the BlackBerry 957, which came with push email and internet functionality. Over the ensuing decade, BlackBerry became the device of choice in corporate America due to its enterprise-level security and business functionality. Even after the competitive entry of the iPhone in 2007 and Google’s Android OS in 2008, BlackBerry was certainly not destined for failure. BlackBerry continued to dominate the smartphone market through 2010, when it still held over 40% of domestic and nearly 20% global market share.
Ultimately, however, it was a combination of slow market reactions, focusing on the wrong end market, misunderstanding the smartphone’s value proposition, and poor execution that sealed BlackBerry’s fate.
Slow market reaction to competition. BlackBerry’s leadership initially dismissed Apple’s touchscreen iPhone, insisting that users preferred their physical keyboard. When the iPhone sold well, BlackBerry hastily released a touchscreen device (BlackBerry Storm), which often did not work properly and was met with horrendous reviews. Subsequent devices reintroduced the keyboard in a combo touchscreen-keyboard setup (BlackBerry Bold), which momentarily stemmed the tide. Still, they would eventually prove misguided as the market continued moving toward a larger screen.
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