📘 Book Review – Losing the Signal The Untold Story Behind the Extraordinary Rise and Spectacular Fall of BlackBerry
The fall of RIM/BlackBerry is directly related to the rise of Apple and iPhone. As one took off, the other crashed and burned.
While it barely registers today, several years ago, RIM and the BlackBerry were THE phone of choice. It was small, efficient, and did it’s job extremely well. It had good battery life, you could check email, and send short text message on a serviceable keyboard. All of this on a low bandwidth signal.
It was amazing, right up until the point it wasn’t.
In many respects, the BlackBerry thrived because of it’s unique functionality and lack of competition. It was the first, so it was the best.
It worked in the Enterprise and had strong support from high level CEOs. Big corporate deals were made using the BlackBerry.
When the iPhone came on the scene it barely made a dent. There was little momentum, so it wasn’t a threat. As famously and ignorantly noted, it didn’t have a keyboard so why would anyone use it?
Yet people did. They saw the power of a device with more than just email. Email, text, videos, camera, Internet, and in a sleek, easy to use package.
Then the blunders happened. RIM was in a fixed mindset and ignored what people were buying. “This is what they want!” Yet it wasn’t. People wanted more features, more capabilities, but BlackBerry refused to offer it.
They stuck with the idea of 2G being all people needed. 3G was a folly! Too expensive, too much infrastructure, too many bits!
And so they idled. Making the same product in the same way that put them on top. Yet they were losing market share by leaps and bounds.
The iPhone was as powerful and capable as a desktop computer. It didn’t just consume emails, it was content creation.
When Google entered the market and gave Android to anyone who wanted it, RIM still held their ground. What they offered was “good enough” and “low cost enough.” The iPhone is bells and whistles. BlackBerry is hardcore!
Except it wasn’t.
BlackBerry reluctantly began to change, but it was half-hearted and half-assed at best. Their design was dull and lacked features. Their “touch” was rudimentary at best with device failures galore. Their software apps were non-existent.
They continued to ignore the market and say, “This is what you need.”
And more markets share was lost.
When 3G happened, Apple and others had features ready to use it. Carriers jumped at the chance to offer more services at a higher rate. It was win-win all round.
Except for BlackBerry.
It didn’t work on 3G. It kept falling further and further behind. Features kept looking more and more dated with each passing month and slumping sales.
By the time the iPhone had been refined through a couple of iterations, BlackBerry was sunk.
Internal strife, lack of vision, and refusal to adapt and change course sent RIM into a tailspin. The CEOs refused to talk to each other. R&D couldn’t decide what to produce. Each effort was more lackluster.
When the iPad hit the market, BlackBerry had one desperate hope, the Playbook. It was ill conceived and poorly executed. Nobody wanted it because nothing ran on it. Not even email, their bread and butter.
People probably don’t even know there was a Playbook.
To make matters worse, there were even more internal mistakes. SEC filings were completely out of whack. Feuds erupted. Fines were levied. The company couldn’t agree on a direction or who was in charge. They were collapsing internally and in the marketplace.
Along comes a service outage and BlackBerry is dead. Everything they had worked for was gone. It was the final straw in a bewildering long series of mistakes.
When the CEOs finally stepped down, no one cared. No one was paying attention. They had switched to iOS and Android.
In the end, they dropped from 80%+ of the market share to not being part of the market.
Even when you’re at the top, you still have to adapt. You have to innovate. You have to listen. You have to strive to do more. What made you a success yesterday isn’t the same thing that will make you a success tomorrow.