I attended an excellent seminar recently hosted by the Chicago Association of Direct Marketing on the topic of mobile marketing. In attempting to assess his audience, one presenter polled the room of about 40 people as to what phones they used.
“How many of you have an iPhone?”
“Wow! Does anyone use an Android?…….. Hmm, just two.” ( In fairness, this was an advertising/marketing audience, so not at all representative of actual share.)
He then said: “I hesitate to ask, but does anyone have a Blackberry?”
What happened? The room broke into laughter. One person did raise their hand, swearing undying love for their apparatus.
How did Blackberry become a Joke?
Mobile users are well aware of the current problems embroiling the Canadian based Blackberry, but it is astonishing the level of antipathy that so many people now have towards what was a shining star not so long ago.
In 2005, Time magazine named Co-CEO Jim Balsillie as one of the 100 most influential people in the world. Balsillie and co-founder Mike Lazaridis were named 2006 Canada CEO of the Year.
Jim Balsillie and Mike Lararidis
At that stage, if you did not have a Blackberry, your colleagues looked down on you, smiled sympathetically and consigned you to Coventry. Remember when we all oohed and aahed at the President of the United States using a Blackberry?
Today, if that self-same colleague still has a Blackberry, you don’t even smile sympathetically. You look at them with derision and wonder if it is true that cell phone technology does actually impact the brain.
In July 2007, some poor suckers paid $227 to purchase a Blackberry share. They would get $5.75 for that same share as I write this.
What Went Wrong at Blackberry?
Quite obviously, the company misread the market and the impact of the iPhone and then Google’s Android platform. To be fair, they weren’t the only one to make that mistake. Microsoft’s Steve Ballmer famously said the iPhone “is the most expensive phone in the world, and it doesn’t appeal to business customers because it doesn’t have a keyboard.” The majority of industry analysts did not believe that corporate America would ever use anything but a Blackberry or allow its employees to use anything else.
In the end, Blackberry fell afoul of market dynamics. Consumers wanted apps and more apps on their phones, something not encouraged by the Canadian company. More and more developers were writing programs for the devices of their choice – Apple and Android and the momentum developed.
READ: Detailed report on Blackberry Demise at The Globe and Mail
Whether Blackberry will survive is anyone’s guess. Maybe a white knight will ride in and help them as Microsoft has done for Nokia. Who knows?
I am sure a Harvard Case Study will soon be written on the lessons from this corporate disaster, but the lesson everyone can take away today is that the world keeps changing and that none of us can take our success for granted. And God help you if your brand ever becomes a joke.
* * *
Seeking a speaker to Energize, Educate and Entertain your Next Conference?
For further information Contact Conor Cunneen – IrishmanSpeaks at 630 718 1643