Blackberry: The End of an Era?

Blackberry: The End of an Era?

According to tech news, Blackberry has discontinued their Blackberry Classic devices to pave way for their “state-of-the-art” devices; it seems like an effective strategy. But for a company that used to dominate the smartphone industry before being taken over by Google and Apple, it seems a bit too late. Having been cornered by these two smartphone giants, will this mean that Blackberry will have a fate similar to Nokia? Or will their new strategy bring them back again to the top?

From the Top

Blackberry Limited, formerly known as Research in Motion, started out as a company that focused on a breakthrough technology: an easy, secure and effective device that lets workers receive e-mails while they’re away from their offices. Thus, the Blackberry is born.

The very first device to bear the Blackberry name, the Blackberry 850, was also the first device to integrate e-mail functionality. With this success, other versions of Blackberry were released, offering more features like text messaging, voice call capabilities and multimedia capabilities as well as full QWERTY keyboard support. What made it all so favoured by organisations — IT Services Australia and even government agencies — is because of its unmatched device and data security mechanism, providing several layers of encryption down to its hardware. And it’s because of this great feature that even Obama can’t give up his Blackberry over an iPhone or Android.

In the days of Blackberry’s dominant streak, the company established the biggest hit on the stock market, having hit a mere-high $149.90 per stock in 2008 and becoming the most valuable company on the TSX with a market capitalisation surpassing $67 billion. At its peak in 2013, it recorded 85 million Blackberry subscribers worldwide.

To the Bottom

When Apple launched its iPhone in 2007, it made consumers the instrument in shaping the smartphone industry – something that Blackberry never understood. And with Google’s entrance to the smartphone foray with its Android mobile OS, this significantly changed the game in the battle for supremacy.

Innovation also has been slow in the side of Blackberry. It took them long enough to realise that physical keyboards were a thing of the past, as consumers quickly got used to touch-screen keyboards. Still, they defiantly released products, like the aforementioned Classic, that still features physical keyboards in the hopes that customers would see it as a better tool for communicating. This made their devices look and feel more outdated and resulted to Blackberry’s share plummeting as they hung longer on this trend.

Another big reason for Blackberry’s decline is the shift of management. For a long time, past CEOs like Jim Balsillie and Mike Lazaridis have made the company more successful by bringing its consumers assurance of their products. But after the bottom fell out of the company, shareholders lost faith. With subsequent executive Thorsten Heins, whose views in focusing on the company’s fundamentals and to deliver new hardware and software turned erroneous, was taken over by turnaround expert John Chen who tried to alleviate the situation by turning it more of an enterprise-focused software company than one being driven solely by hardware.

Slim Chances?

With Blackberry having seen some hardships in the industry today, experts predict that it may soon delve into an acquisition just like what happened to Nokia being bought over by Microsoft, the company behind Office 365 for small business. They may have ditched their old ways and adopted Google’s proprietary OS for their newest Priv smartphone and upcoming DTEK 50 device, but only time can tell if this once-smartphone giant can rise back to the top.

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