BlackBerry’s fall is one of the biggest business failures in recent years. Its fall was further exemplified today when it was announced that the agreement between BlackBerry and T-Mobile would not be renewed. It comes as no surprise as T-Mobile stopped stocking its shelves with BlackBerry phones last year.
It is almost unfathomable to consider that the BlackBerry ushered in the era of the smart phone and was responsible for “CrackBerry.” Now, it has fallen so far that phone carriers don’t want to sell the BlackBerry. T-Mobile will not be the last either.
This is a classic example of a brand that believed brand loyalty could not be trumped by innovation. I am not talking about the disruptive kind of innovation that changes everything over night like electricity, for example. I am talking about a consistent, steady march forward.
When Apple launched its first iPhone, BlackBerry had an opportunity to do something then, but instead rested on the fact that businesses were buying its phones in droves and the phones were being supported by enterprise wide IT departments. That strategy did not seem to work out so well now.
After the market shifted and businesses began to support iPhones and Androids, BlackBerry was placed in a position where it HAD to come out with a game changer to defend what it had. Nothing that it did could convince consumers to come back. Today, I am not sure BlackBerry has what it takes. That ship has passed and it’s a damaged brand.
Some will argue that T-Mobile is not actually dropping BlackBerry. Some will say that the BlackBerry T-Mobile breakup was caused by a breach of faith on T-Mobile’s part. Word is T-Mobile encouraged BlackBerry users to switch to iPhones. Maybe that is true but I ask you this: who needs who more? Last time I checked, BlackBerry’s market share was below 2%.
There was an opportunity for BlackBerry to capitalize on its leadership because it built the category. It never had to be the next big thing. It just had to be in the considered set. It failed to maintain its relevancy. Its failure doomed it to the annals of MBA case studies. I do not think that BlackBerry will ever be forgotten. It just will not be used.