Jab They Failed- Blackberry
Vinay Jain || IIM Shillong
Blackberry Messenger commonly known as BBM was something really cool back when I was studying in Mumbai back in 2011. Everyone had a blackberry, BBM groups were the thing of that moment. Then after just a year and a half, most of them didn’t have a blackberry phone anymore. Why did this happen? It sounds really strange because something so popular at one point of time doesn’t even exist after just a year. Let us see what had led to the fall of Blackberry. Blackberry was the product of the Canadian company Research in motion (RIM). In 2009, it was labelled the fastest growing company in the world by Forbes. Some of the features that blackberry phones had that made it a hit are given below: • Qwerty Keypad: it was one of the first smartphone makers who came up with a qwerty keypad which made it easier for people to type • Email: it also had email service which was the reason why it became a hit in the corporates • BBM: this was launched in 2005, every phone was given a unique Personal Identification Number (PIN) which could be used to send unlimited texts, images, and videos to any other Blackberry phone across the globe • Encryption: the messages sent on the BBM network were fully protected and couldn’t be intercepted by any entity, sometimes even the government. This gave the corporates a confidence while sharing sensitive data for quick decision making The only catch here was these services needed some extra payment from the user. The person had to subscribe with an internet plan with their network operator to use these services for a monthly fee which was around Rs 400 for a complete package back in 2011 in Mumbai which varied region wise. The following reasons broadly tell you why Blackberry couldn’t continue its success in the smartphone market: New competitors: Once Apple entered the market with many more features than Blackberry it was bound to create a doubt in the minds of the consumers. Also Apple services were free compared to Blackberry where the user had to pay monthly charge to use the service. Operating system issues: Smartphones were originally
defined as mobile devices which could send emails, messaging and could run for long hours. They were designed that way and so was Blackberry but after other competitors entered the market, they started focusing more on the applications part which got the users interested. The corporates still wanted the long running phones with just the basic facilities but the normal user wanted more features like faster internet browser, newer multimedia applications etc. The operating system of Blackberry was not as evolved as android and ios, it was more difficult to make apps on this medium. Organisation structure: Blackberry, unlike most of the organisations, had two CEOs for a very long time, each leading a different set of divisons. This had both advantages and disadvantages. Each handled what was his expertise. The only bad thing being that when major decisions were to be taken both of them needed to be consulted and in an industry like smartphone where things were moving very fast, this kind of made Blackberry a little slow while taking dynamic steps.. Confused strategy: One set of executives believed that Blackberry should go with the smartphone trend of touch screens devices and focus more on that. It was done after the launch of Apple when Blackberry storm and Blackberry torch were launched. Unfortunately, these devices neither had the kind of touch quality nor the apps that their competitors provided because this wasn’t their forte. During the launch of new Blackberry 10 there was a debate as to whether it should be launched with or without a keypad. It was launched without and it failed. If an organization like Blackberry which was at some point the world’s fastest growing company can fail big time then it won’t be a big thing if your organization does too if the strategy is not in sync with the marketing done by the organization. One should make sure that the needs of the market is identified clearly which was clearly not the case in Blackberry’s case as they refused to accept the changing needs of the consumers. Also the direction needs to be clear as to where the organization is going and this can be done only with proper communication amongst the senior executives.