The first BlackBerry was the 850 and it was little more than a two-way pager with email and some limited HTML functionality.
However, it could not be used as a phone.
The 850 was not even yet called a BlackBerry and it was only available to enterprises.
Neither of those factors detracted from its desirability. Quite the opposite, in fact. It was a status symbol.
RIM owned a product that elicited such an emotional response that people became addicted to the device.
I must have it
It owned innovation. It owned status. It owned first.
It owned prized emotional ground that should be held on to as vigorously as possible.
Mobile devices were in a rapid stage of evolution. Features were being added and removed on the whims of consumer taste.
But here lies the problem. In a changing market, stasis often means death. That’s why BlackBerry failed.
As BlackBerry failed, it saw itself only as a producer of mobile phones.
It forgot to protect that high emotional ground with a brand that says why their mobile phones were important.
Its success was due only to being first to market with a highly innovative product.
BlackBerry thought it was untouchable.
As other device companies were innovating, BlackBerry’s co-CEO Mike Lazaridis quipped: “Camera phones will be rejected by corporate users.”
Overnight, the hero of innovation was ripped away by the iPhone.
More importantly, Apple uncovered an emotional intensity that trumped them all, simplicity.
All emotional intensities that made BlackBerry popular were voided by a single product launch.
So what are the lessons here? What can we learn from the fact that BlackBerry failed?
Staying the course is a dangerous proposition.
You must defend your position with all of the resources at your disposal.
A brand focused on emotion allows customers to remain loyal despite other innovations.
When your brand is about innovation, you teach customers to always seek out the newest innovation.
Brand arrogance is one of the worst things that can happen to any brand.