What it is: WhatsApp is one of the most popular messaging app that has more than 900 million users and over 10 billion messages are sent through it every day.
By itself that statistic isn’t that important, but what is important is that WhatsApp is one of the more popular smartphone apps and they’re abandoning Blackberry OS.
At one time, Blackberry commanded 70% of the smartphone market in 2009. Now it has under 1% according to Garnter’s latest research. WhatsApp abandoning Blackberry means they no longer see a need to waste resources supporting a platform with a dwindling user base. It’s likely that other app developers will abandon Blackberry and few new app developers will bother creating apps for Blackberry.
As Blackberry loses its market share, it’s also losing developers as well. If a developer wants to make money, they’ll follow the two most lucrative markets: iOS and Android. Because more people are using iOS and Android, more developers are going to make apps for the most lucrative market. Because fewer people are using Blackberry, fewer developers will bother making apps for Blackberry in a vicious cycle of no return for Blackberry.
What’s the future for Blackberry? They’re now embracing Android and trying to create a secure Android smartphone called the BlackBerry Priv. While focusing on security is a step in the right direction, Blackberry is now just one more competitor in the crowded Android smartphone market.
So how did Blackberry go from commanding the smartphone market to being an afterthought? Ask Nintendo why sales of their mobile gaming devices have plummeted. Or ask Kodak what happened to their film photography business.
The biggest tragedy in business is when a company follows a plan that worked great right up until it doesn’t. In the case of Blackberry, the introduction of the iPhone in 2007 spelled the end of Blackberry, yet Blackberry was too slow to adapt. The end result is that Blackberry, like Nokia and Microsoft Windows CE operating system, was caught flat-footed when the market shifted to touch screens and Blackberry was still trying to sell smartphones with tiny screens and a cramped and crowded keyboard.
The lesson from Blackberry is clear. The moment you achieve your greatest success is the moment to start panicking because that’s the beginning of the end. Blackberry may just survive by transitioning from smartphones to services, but they’ll never be the dominant force they were at one time.
The world constantly changes and each time it does, it creates new opportunities for some (think Amazon) while destroying existing opportunities for others (think Borders Books). The lesson of Blackberry is that complacency is a dangerous narcotic. The moment you believe you’re the king of the hill is the second you’re on the verge of falling.
In your own life, don’t get complacent. Assume everything will fail eventually and you’ll either be right (and be prepared) or you’ll be wrong and there’s no need to change. Whatever the case, Blackberry should teach everyone that the world can change faster than you might think, so that’s why companies like Apple prefer to kill their own products before someone else does. (Think of how the iPhone helped kill the iPod.)