By 2018, they were only offering smartphones to India, and finally, in 2020 their manufacturing contract expired. The option to renew it wasn’t pursued. The company closed its doors.
But what led to this once-thriving company to its eventual demise? Was it the market, competition, or perhaps their finicky subscribers? When you’re ready to learn the truth behind why BlackBerry died, read on.
What Happened to BlackBerry All Started with Qwerty
The Qwerty keyboard was instrumental in the fall of the BlackBerry. What is a Qwerty keyboard? It’s essentially a miniature version of your laptop keyboard.
It’s based on a Latin-based alphabet. QWERTY refers to the first six letters located on the upper row of the keyboard. People have been using it since Christopher Latham Sholes first mass-produced the “Type-Writer” back in 1874.
BlackBerry held a rigid determination to keep a physical Qwerty keyboard on their devices. The Qwerty took up prime real estate that could have otherwise been used by a screen. They stuck with the design,n banking on their past success with “lightning fast” emails and instant messaging.
Unfortunately, their physical keyboard was static. It couldn’t modify itself to adjust for a user’s behavior or an app’s requirements. Smartphones that you see today don’t have that problem.
Competing for the same market, Apple included a full touchscreen interface on their iPhone. It covered the face, corner to corner, side to side. Their approach stuck and added to the BlackBerry downfall.
Today’s smartphones are used for everything:
- Virtual reality
- Augmented reality
- Taking photos
- Sharing photos
- Playing games
- Video chatting
- Watching movies
Each requires an adaptable keyboard. Even text chat has options for stickers, emojis, and GIFs. The static Qwerty keyboards simply couldn’t hold up with today’s demands.
Another factor that led to the BlackBerry decline was the impractical design.
Flip phones and slide phones eventually went the way of the dinosaur. They were cumbersome, and they broke easily. Their extra hardware also added extra weight to the phones.
BlackBerry had to make room on their phones for their physical Qwerty keyboard. That left them with two options. They either had to hide it in a flip phone or a slide phone, or they had to take up space that could otherwise belong to the screen.
Both were poor options which resulted in heavy, clunky phones. They looked outdated compared to the new iPhone features available. The iPhones looked sleek, slender, and came with higher resolution screens.
Jealously Guarded BlackBerry Messaging Service
Yet another contributing factor in the eventual BlackBerry failure wat the BlackBerry Messaging Service (BBM). BBM is a voice, text, and video chat service used exclusively on BlackBerry devices.
It captured younger teenage audiences with a fast approach to messaging. By comparison, traditional texting was boring. BBM offered things like status updates and pinging other BlackBerry users.
When BBM was released, instant messaging was limited, so these features were cutting edge. As BlackBerry started to lose business from its poor design, they thought BBM would save them. Remember, they hung all their hopes on the texting market with their physical Qwerty.
As their stocks began to freefall, they finally released their once proprietary BBM software to the public. By then it was too late. Other manufacturers had already developed their own software, like Kik, Whatsapp, and iMessage.
Modern mobile device operating systems (OS) fall into three categories:
The Android OS is open-source, meaning it’s free to use. Many mobile device manufacturers, therefore, use Android software. That’s led to a thriving community and a huge app store.
Apple continues to choose the proprietary OS, but Apple runs on a completely different business model. They run on exclusivity. They build beautiful devices that integrate seamlessly with one another.
- Apple Watch
They focus on first-rate products that cost a pretty penny. They geared their devices toward professionals in need of high-quality graphics and students. They also have a massive audience; one with which Blackberry could never compete.
They created their own app store. And, because they’re so large, they filled that app store without any difficulties.
Is it as big as the Android app store? No, but it doesn’t need to be. They aren’t hurting for products.
BlackBerry, on the other hand, tried to run their own app store with a much smaller fanbase.
It didn’t work. Their customers lacked options. The few apps that BlackBerry offered were usually re-engineered from Android apps and they came with a multitude of flaws. Moreover, you only got half a screen to view the screens on ubiquitous apps like Twitter and Facebook.
To make matters worse, BlackBerry’s web browser was another proprietary piece of software. It was sluggish and clunky compared to those on Android and Apple devices.
Corporate All the Way
BlackBerry threw all its focus into two core markets:
- Teenagers using BBM
- Corporate professionals using corporate-centric features
When BlackBerry first became popular, they exploded into the corporate market. At the time, they were the only phone on the market offering apps and services that let professionals do meaningful work on handheld devices.
Professionals also lauded BlackBerry for its high-security platform. The content was always encrypted and uncrackable…or it was until governments started demanding access. Though BlackBerry said it wouldn’t cave in to these demands, rumors started that they’d allowed Pakistan and India access.
Those rumors poisoned the waters, and other mobile devices began offering better software and services for corporate clientele. The results? BlackBerry interest continued to plummet until it was altogether gone.
What Happened to BlackBerry? It petered out because of its keyboard, BBM, operating system, and narrow audience selection. In effect, it didn’t keep up with the exponential pace in the digital technology market today.
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