Tough Competition: What we can learn from Blackberry

Written by 5ivecanons Staff

Many consider Blackberry to be the pioneer of the modern smartphone, combining features such as email and PDA functions with telephony, but troubled times have befallen this once successful company.

Four years ago, Blackberry had 51% of the smartphone segment, but with other manufacturer’s smartphone units selling, and consumer’s growing demands for more features, Blackberry began losing their segment with the rapidly changing, very competitive market.

Just a few days ago, Blackberry announced that it would cut 4,500 jobs globally. It’s been showing signs of trouble since Android and iOS hit the market, and has suffered a steady, consistent drop off of users. The big news yesterday, Blackberry announced that the Canadian company, Fairfax Financial Holdings Limited, has offered to buy the struggling smartphone maker for 4.7 Billion dollars.

Where did Blackberry go wrong?

So where exactly did Blackberry go wrong? It wasn’t long ago that phrases like ‘crackberry‘ were commonly used to describe the addictive nature of these phones and when business professionals, including the President of the United States, wouldn’t be caught without there Blackberry.

Limited App

When scanning the past to analyze the shortcomings of troubled companies, Palm’s WebOS revealed one of the most reoccurring and sharpest criticism for the platform – lack of apps and developer support. For consumers, one of the key incentives of owning a smartphone is the ability to download apps to expand the device’s functionality. With Blackberry World, the lack of apps, 120,000 compared to Apple’s 900,000 apps and Google’s 1 Million apps, Blackberry is far behind the curve.

Outdated Style

Another factor that negatively impacted Blackberry and further separated it from the competition was its slow adoption of changing trends and features. While other companies such as Samsung and Apple were using full touch screen phones, Blackberry primarily continued to offer qwerty keyboard on their phones with smaller screens and a touchpad sensor for navigation.

Smartphones represent modern society and the advancement of technology. Blackberry’s slow adoption might have appealed to older users, but turned away younger consumers who would eventually grow to became the older consumer base. This reluctant approach combined with a lackluster OS, all contributed to the loss in popularity.

Mid-Range Hardware

The modern smartphone segment is about having the latest and greatest. When looking at Blackberry’s newest flagship device, we find mid-range hardware and features. When this is paired with lack of apps, culture and style, buying a Blackberry over an Android or iOS device simply does not make sense.

Some Rise Others Fall

To sum it all up. To be successful, you have to stay fresh and exciting. The current leaders in the smartphone race, Apple and Samsung, update their phone operating systems and hardware annually, and continue to race forward by creating a culture around their products.

It’s this culture that sells phones.

Apple recently released the new iPhone 5c and 5s, and hundreds of loyal fans were waiting outside Apple stores worldwide to purchase the new devices. According to Apple, the combined sales of their new iPhones broke all previous sales records, selling over 9 million units over a few days.

It’s disappointing to see a pioneer of the smartphone segment slowly fade into irrelevance, but it sends a clear message: to be on top, manufactures have anticipate trends, release the latest technology and support apps.