What it is: Blackberry OS used to be one of the most popular smartphone operating systems in the world. Then Apple introduced the iPhone and it was all downhill from there.
Before Apple introduced the iPhone, Blackberry smartphones were considered a status symbol in the corporate world. If you had a Blackberry, you were somebody important.
What made Blackberries so popular was its secure messaging system. Even governments relied on Blackberries for that reason. However, once the iPhone arrived and made Blackberry’s tiny screen and physical keyboard obsolete, Blackberry OS has been declining ever since. For a while, Blackberry kept vainly trying to sell Blackberry phones to people who liked the Blackberry physical keyboard, but that’s like horse and buggy manufacturers trying to sell carriages while everyone’s buying cars. Blackberry simply get swept away by the iPhone.
To regain their footing in the smartphone market, Blackberry decided to adopt Android and make it more secure. While this strategy seemed to make sense, Blackberry also priced their original Android phone way too high ($700). If Blackberry lowers their price, they may be able to compete in the crowded Android market by simply selling one of the few secure Android smartphones on the market. Then again, with so many companies selling Android phones with security features (including Samsung), Blackberry is once again competing from a position of weakness.
Blackberry’s problem is that they can’t keep selling Blackberry OS and they can’t rely on Android, which means they’ll forever remain a niche smartphone manufacturer. Blackberry can continue trying to compete against everyone else or they can pursue their services strategy and simply provide services for corporations to help them manage their smartphones. It may not be as lucrative as selling Blackberry smartphones in a market before the iPhone appeared, but it’s a far more viable strategy than trying to compete against the iPhone and the multitude of Android manufacturers.
Blackberry’s fate shows what happens when the world changes around you but you don’t. Ask Blockbuster Video what happened to their DVD rental market when streaming video became popular. Ask Kodak what happened to their film processing business after digital photography became popular. Ask Yahoo what happens when your search engine gets surpassed by a rival named Google?
No company can afford to rely on a single product and hope that it will last forever. The auto industry has been lucky so far because they actively squashed competition as much as possible, yet the Big Three auto makers still suffered when Japanese, and later Korean imports flooded the American market. Now they’re under assault from Tesla selling electric cars directly to consumers while the Big Three still relies on obnoxious, deceitful sales people to sell their products.
Blackberry can still survive if they’re willing to become a niche company in a much smaller market. Once they eliminate their losses and return to profitability again, then they can plot a comeback and find a new way to dominate once more. However, if they’re hoping Android will help them dominate, they’re simply delusional.
Blackberry OS is dead and the overall company is still struggling almost a decade later. Don’t expect Blackberry to make a comeback any time soon. They might, but chances are they won’t. Apple’s comeback still remains a notable exception to the rule that once technology leaders stumble, they rarely get back on their feet again to lead any more.