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Original poster
Apr 12, 2001
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Over the past several years, BlackBerry has gone from one of the top smartphone manufacturers to a company that's struggling to stay afloat in an increasingly competitive market. BlackBerry is hemorrhaging subscribers and losing revenue quarter after quarter as it attempts to turn the tide by focusing on marketing secure devices and software to its enterprise customers.

An upcoming book by Jacquie McNish and Sean Silcoff, Losing the Signal, explores the events that led to the rise and fall of BlackBerry, and an interesting excerpt was shared by The Wall Street Journal today, covering the iPhone's contributions towards BlackBerry's (then known as RIM) failure.

As we've previously learned from Google execs, the launch of the iPhone, which stood apart from all other smartphones on the market at the time, took everyone by surprise. Not only was the iPhone incredibly different from its competitors, it also had features that carriers had previously denied other manufacturers like a full web browser and later, an App Store that had no carrier ties.

blackberryiphone.jpg
Image via CIO
One of RIM co-CEO Mike Lazaridis' first comments was "These guys are really, really good," but despite that fact, RIM failed to see the iPhone as a threat due to its lack of security and the fact that it had no keyboard, features RIM execs thought would make it unappealing to RIM's core consumers.
If the iPhone gained traction, RIM's senior executives believed, it would be with consumers who cared more about YouTube and other Internet escapes than efficiency and security. RIM's core business customers valued BlackBerry's secure and efficient communication systems. Offering mobile access to broader Internet content, says Mr. Conlee, "was not a space where we parked our business."
RIM executives did not understand the iPhone and were "incredulous" that people were purchasing it, realizing too late that form had become as important as function in the eyes of consumers. In an effort to combat the threat of the iPhone, RIM teamed up with Verizon to create a competing touch-based phone -- the Storm.

Verizon pressured RIM into speeding up development on the phone, resulting in a product that was riddled with bugs and issues when it launched in 2008. Despite the flaws, the product was heavily marketed and RIM sold 1 million in two months, leading to a lot of unhappy customers who wanted to return or exchange their devices.

The Storm was a spectacular failure that impacted RIM's relationship with Verizon, ruined its reputation, and cost upwards of $100 million. After the failure, the company was demoralized and at a crossroads, unsure of where to take the company going forward and how to compete with the iPhone and other smartphones in a landscape that was radically different from what the company knew.

RIM was unable to fully recover from failure of the Storm and find its footing, eventually leading to the path that it's on today. "The Storm failure made it clear we were not the dominant smartphone company anymore, said RIM co-CEO Jim Balsille. "We're grappling with who we are because we can't be who we used to be anymore, which sucked...It's not clear what the hell to do."

The full excerpt from the book is worth a read and can be found over at The Wall Street Journal. The book itself is coming out on May 26 and can be pre-ordered from Amazon for $21.

Article Link: New Book Explores How the iPhone Contributed to BlackBerry's Downfall
 

CFreymarc

Suspended
Sep 4, 2009
3,969
1,149
Yes, looks were important but the iPhone allowed you to send email with any service desired by the customer. With RIM you were locked into their email and servers. They lost a lot of customers just over that.

Also RIMs third party developer program was so exclusive, it was like applying to a country club or private society club. The rush of apps going on the iPhone also overwhelmed RIM.
 

ProwlingTiger

macrumors 65816
Jan 15, 2008
1,333
219
As someone who made the unfortunate of buying a Storm (was locked into a Verizon contract at the time), I can attest that RIM had no clue what it was doing. The executives never managed to pull their heads from their asses and design something even moderately competitive. I kept the Storm for a whopping 10 months before switching to AT&T for the iPhone. The Storm was complete garbage. The OS deteriorated over time to the point that I couldn't even answer telephone calls and that was with minimal apps installed and plenty of free space on the device.

I would expect any electronics company to take at least 2 years to catch up to Apple when it enters an industry with a groundbreaking device such as the iPhone, but the fact is RIM had 8 years and couldn't produce ****, all the while insisting that business customers needed a physical keyboard. Sure some are probably still clinging to their Blackberries but that is such a niche market.
 

AngerDanger

macrumors 603
Dec 9, 2008
5,367
28,117
Ooh, it's from the same people who brought us Rain and How It Contributes to Wet Grounds. :p
 

Shlooky

macrumors regular
May 31, 2012
239
115
And i had that disgusting Storm from Blackberry, it would crash, requiring a battery pull. the screen would click only allowing you to click once for every key. The browsing was the worst I have ever encountered where the phone would literally crash during a website request.

:(
 

DaveTheRave

macrumors 6502a
May 22, 2003
664
242
I kind of feel bad for Lazaridis. I read once that he had a meeting with a carrier where he talked about a new power saving feature. Instead of being happy, the execs were pissed that this would reduce their sales of extra phone chargers. I think even Steve Jobs could appreciate what he was trying to do with the focus on best security and battery life. Unfortunately more people ended up wanting something different.
 

rekhyt

macrumors 65816
Jun 20, 2008
1,127
78
Part of the old MR guard.
Arrogance. It's that simple.

It killed Nokia, and it killed BlackBerry. It nearly killed Microsoft (Before they managed to recover under S. Nadella).

And it'll be what kills Google as well.
 

spiderman0616

macrumors 601
Aug 1, 2010
4,292
5,079
Oh my god, those Storm phones were a disaster. A friend of mine and his wife bought a couple of them and promptly returned them. Every time they tried to make or answer calls, the screens would go white and they'd have to take the battery out and put it back in to reset the phone.
 

sinsin07

macrumors 68040
Mar 28, 2009
3,584
2,547
Steve Jobs talking about RIM
October 2010

"First, let me discuss iPhone. We sold 14.1 million iPhones in the quarter, which represents a 91 percent unit growth over the year-ago quarter, and was well ahead of IDC's latest published estimate of 64 percent growth for the global smartphone market in the September quarter. And it handily beats RIM's 12.1 million BlackBerrys sold, in their most recent quarter ending in August. We've now passed RIM. And I don't see them catching up to us in the foreseeable future.
They must look beyond their area of strength and comfort, into the unfamiliar territory of trying to become a software platform company. I think it's going to be a challenge for them, to create a competitive platform, and to convince developers to create apps for yet a third software platform after iOS and Android. With 300,000 apps on Apple's App Store, RIM has a high mountain ahead of them to climb."
 

spiderman0616

macrumors 601
Aug 1, 2010
4,292
5,079
Arrogance. It's that simple.

It killed Nokia, and it killed BlackBerry. It nearly killed Microsoft (Before they managed to recover under S. Nadella).

And it'll be what kills Google as well.

I don't think anything can kill Google at this point. They have the media and the IT people in their pockets.
 

mloffa

macrumors 6502a
Jul 13, 2009
966
40
I remember having that phone - it was junk. You would have to put a business card or something on top of the battery behind the backplate so you could actually type normally on the screen. Crazy.
 

CFreymarc

Suspended
Sep 4, 2009
3,969
1,149
As someone who made the unfortunate of buying a Storm (was locked into a Verizon contract at the time), I can attest that RIM had no clue what it was doing. The executives never managed to pull their heads from their asses and design something even moderately competitive. I kept the Storm for a whopping 10 months before switching to AT&T for the iPhone.

I would expect any electronics company to take at least 2 years to catch up to Apple when it enters an industry with a groundbreaking device such as the iPhone, but the fact is RIM had 8 years and couldn't produce ****, all the while insisting that business customers needed a physical keyboard. Sure some are probably still clinging to their Blackberries but that is such a niche market.

Like many technology companies, they created a market and had no idea how to embrace a growing user base. RIM started off as a way to send secure wireless messages on a mobile platform. That won many government and large corporate contracts. However, as they saturated that market and consumer became the revenue stream, their old habits did not die. Secure mobile communications became a specialized service with encyption as an app and service and not in the hardware.

If RIM went back to their core business, got out of the mobile device business and just became a service company with servers and apps, they would be doing fine. Instead, whoever has a bug up their behind to keep making mobile hardware is killing them. Similar thing happen at IBM til they got out of the client hardware business.
 

WestonHarvey1

macrumors 68030
Jan 9, 2007
2,564
1,661
Microsoft Exchange Server deserves the credit. Companies started noticing corporate email works just fine with Exchange connected directly to the internet. Blackberry's middleware became obsolete. Once Apple licensed ActiveSync, people could bring their iPhones to work and the Blackberry handset was done.
 

CFreymarc

Suspended
Sep 4, 2009
3,969
1,149
I don't think anything can kill Google at this point. They have the media and the IT people in their pockets.

What will compromise Google is their loss of uniqueness. They know that they are damn good at being first and having people jump along with whatever they are doing. This is why they are doing so many things outside their core business such as self driving cars, mobile computing and other ventures.

If they keep "running crazy" they will do fine. However, no one stays on top forever and they will have to visit who they stepped on to get where they are now. The residents of the City of Mountian View is a good example. Remember, where they are now was part of the old Silicon Graphics campus and they were too big to fall twenty years ago.
 

Ninja Dom

macrumors 6502a
Feb 12, 2007
625
123
Boom!! I worked for Vodafone Retail UK in 2008 when the Storm launched.

In my store we all used unlocked iPhone's as our personal phones (the iPhone wasn't available on Vodafone back then). Anyway we had to sell the Storm.

You have not seen a bigger mess than the Storm. The returns were so high that Vodafone changed their Returns Policy so that there were NO RETURNS and all sales were final. Unhappy customers were literally throwing these Storms back at us.
 

IllmasterMath

Cancelled
May 16, 2012
114
10
In light of all the rumors surrounding force touch being implemented on the next iPhone, it's interesting to note that the Storm might be one of the first implementations of pressure recognition as an additional means of input on an (arguably) modern phone.
 

pesos

macrumors 6502a
Mar 30, 2006
635
158
I don't think anything can kill Google at this point. They have the media and the IT people in their pockets.

Not this IT person. My colleagues and I can't stand the googs.

Microsoft Exchange Server deserves the credit. Companies started noticing corporate email works just fine with Exchange connected directly to the internet. Blackberry's middleware became obsolete. Once Apple licensed ActiveSync, people could bring their iPhones to work and the Blackberry handset was done.

Amen.
 
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