Not long ago the Blackberry was as ubiquitous in offices as the necktie. Research In Motion had produced an innovative product that was credited with increasing productivity in a business culture that more and more depended on 24/7/365 connectivity. Then the Canadian success story changed. The once-breakthrough phone/email - retrieval-device was out innovated and outsmarted by the iPhone and other smartphones. And now, its days appear to be over. One lesson: in a consumer driven marketplace, if your product's success has more to do with the choice of companies rather than the end user, you might be in trouble. The New Yorker 's Vauhini Vara reports on the decline: As early as 2009, BlackBerry’s share price had fallen to less than fifty dollars, from its high of two hundred and thirty-six dollars in the summer of 2007. The “consumerization” of business technology was already underway, and the company had failed to come to grips with it: when BlackBerry users returned home and pulled off their ties, they picked up iPhones, which were a lot more fun to use. Soon, they wanted to use iPhones at work. Simultaneously, companies realized that workers would be happier and more productive buying the device of their choice, and the firms themselves, spared the expense of providing their employees with phones, would save money. By the time BlackBerry realized it needed to reach consumers directly, it was too late. In November, 2008, the company released its first touchscreen phone, the Storm, to middling reviews. BlackBerry then turned its focus to Asia and Latin America, where the smartphone market continued to explode. For several months, the strategy worked. In Indonesia, where the company made a special push, its products held forty-seven per cent of the market by the first half of 2011, up from only nine per cent in the first half of 2009, according to the research firm Canalys. The decline in the company’s stock price finally started to level off. But the plateau was short-lived: soon, a new crop of Asian companies started to build cheaper smartphones. Around the time that BlackBerry deepened its efforts in emerging markets, it also bought QNX Software Systems, whose operating systems powered technology ranging from medical devices to computerized automobile interfaces. BlackBerry hoped to augment its own operating-system expertise—but in April of 2011, when the company introduced a tablet powered by a QNX-based operating system, the PlayBook, it flopped. Then BlackBerry appointed a new C.E.O., Thorsten Heins, at the start of 2012. It would take a year for the firm to throw what David Pogue, the Times technology critic, called “BlackBerry’s Hail Mary pass”: this January, the company launched the Q10 and Z10, its most serious attempts at high-end phones that would actually be attractive to everyday consumers. While some critics praised the phones—Pogue called the Z10 “lovely, fast and efficient, bristling with fresh, useful ideas”—they have failed to sell as well as the company had hoped. In its most recent quarter, BlackBerry shipped only 6.8 million smartphones—roughly a fifth of what Apple sold during the same period. Read How Blackberry Fell here .
Filed under: innovation, iphone, New Yorker, smartphones, mobile, research in motion, tech business, consumer choice, decline, Blackberry, consumerization of technology, Vauhini Vara