It’s an unfortunate but not uncommon story in business. A company comes out with a game-changing product and quickly dominates the market. But competition emerges, the market changes, and the once dominant company cannot keep up.
Next thing, you have a company that was once worth $383 billion now worth $4 billion. And I would assume all their revenue comes from legacy clients that haven’t switched to another platform yet.
In the late 90’s and early 2000’s, Blackberry devices were everywhere. iPhones were around but they were used for entertainment – an iPod with a phone. For business, the Blackberry device was it.
I remember initially I wasn’t high enough in the company to get a Blackberry (they only went to those in the C-suite), so I bought my own. The connectivity to email was amazing. You no longer needed to be in the office or connect through webmail to get your email. It was a leap forward.
But the best thing about a Blackberry device was the keyboard. While others struggled with autocorrect features on the iPhone virtual keyboards, us Blackberry users got so good we could type with our thumbs as fast as we could type on a regular keyboard.
We never went anywhere without our Blackberry. And because the screen didn’t draw much power, the battery in the device lasted forever.
Blackberry may be the most notable casualty in the cell phone industry, but they’re not alone. Remember Palm Pilot? That was another device that changed the business world. Nokia, Motorola, Sony all had their moments in the sun only to be surpassed by the dominance of Apple and Samsung.
But look at what has happened in the cell phone world recently. It used to be that I couldn’t wait for the latest device to come out. I was frustrated if I was on a two-year contract and wasn’t able to upgrade as soon as the device was released. Each subsequent device was another great leap forward in design, capacity, and functionality.
And now the most exciting thing anyone can come up with is that the new iPhone eliminated the headphone jack and the Samsung keeps exploding while being recharged.
Have we reached that stage of the cellphone lifecycle where we no longer see any great technology advances? If so, what will take its place? Is there any game-changing new consumer technologies on the horizon? Or have things evolved away from technology as the product to using technology in new ways.
The news about Blackberry is a little like learning that an elderly relative who has been on life support for the past few years has finally died. It’s sad, but not unexpected.
Did you ever own a Blackberry Device? When did you switch to something else?