Technologizer

The Inside Story of the Collapse of BlackBerry

The Globe and Mail fills in the details of a great company's collapse.

  • Share
  • Read Later

The Globe and Mail has a fantastic article on the decline and fall of BlackBerry. It’s so deeply reported that it’s no surprise there are three names on the byline: Sean Silcoff, Jacquie McNish and Steve Ladurantaye.

The overarching explanation of what happened, we already know: BlackBerry maker RIM failed to evolve at anywhere near the speed required in the post-iPhone area, and stopped making good devices. But the story, which includes quotes from a new interview with RIM founder Mike Lazaridis, is the closest thing I’ve seen to the tale told from the inside.

This bit captures the tone-deaf hubris that did RIM in:

“The problem wasn’t that we stopped listening to customers,” said one former RIM insider. “We believed we knew better what customers needed long term than they did. Consumers would say, ‘I want a faster browser.’ We might say, ‘You might think you want a faster browser, but you don’t want to pay overage on your bill.’ ‘Well, I want a super big very responsive touchscreen.’ ‘Well, you might think you want that, but you don’t want your phone to die at 2 p.m.’ “We would say, ‘We know better, and they’ll eventually figure it out.’ ”

You could write a book about all this. And it would be cool if Silcoff, McNish and Ladurantaye did.

45 comments
adminuser
adminuser

Apple doesn't listen to customers either. They don't do focus groups.

But, as Steve Jobs said, "real artists ship"

RIM never did...

oliverwieland
oliverwieland

The new blackberry phones and OS are fantastic. I haven't used iOS 7 yet but BlackBerry 10 easily beats iOS 6 on usability. The browser by the way is lightning fast. Absolutely love my z10,

JOSEPHBB
JOSEPHBB

I still have " Power Computer" brand computer  that was outperforming Apple years ago when Apple was on life support. Then Steve came back to run Apple back to its glory. One of his first moves was to buy" Power Computer company" I have faith that BB can do the same kind of rebound they still have a strong business base!!!

jOhan
jOhan

You think you want a smart phone. But what  you really want is your wife to stop calling/texting you to pick things up at the store on the way home. 

ScottFromDetroit
ScottFromDetroit

You think you wanted to read a news article, but what you actually wanted was a shallow book plug.

JOSEPHBB
JOSEPHBB

If you want to manage your business contacts and keep them informed get the BB 9930. If you have time to play games on your phone get a million apps oh and do not forget the one that wipes your ass!!!!

JeffBrooks
JeffBrooks

I moved from Samsung Galaxy 4 to new Blackberry 10 on Verizon - best phone decision - my battery life if 2+ days compared to less than a business day (in power save mode) on the Galaxy.  Hate it for RIM because this is a great unit.

JesusDanielAstorga
JesusDanielAstorga

Their innovation was crap.... and failed to keep up with the other cell phones.  I am really not surprised blackberry collapsed. 

JOSEPHBB
JOSEPHBB

I love my BB 9930, group texting, group e-mail, categories, BBM it is still the best phone for business. If you want a phone with gadgets to play with get the Iphone or Andriod camera apps, games etc. I have a Nikon 600 with prime lenses that will blow them away. In fact I got the new BB Q10 and took it back to get BB 7.1 9930 it is the best business phone on the market . Hope BB builds on the 7.1 system instead of trying to catch up with gadgetry phones.  

TomDalton
TomDalton

New technology is very disruptive...  Palm owned this market forever ago, then Blackberry owned it, now Apple/Samsung duopoly... No doubt BB stopped listening.   Technology leaders need to take the Intel/paranoia approach versus the "we know better" philosophy that BB exhibited.  

criello70
criello70

exactly the problem "“We believed we knew better what customers needed". they were wrong, and they are obsolete, because the customer moved on to someone who offered what they wanted to buy

Bassman123
Bassman123

These great innovations on the phone are nothing more than nuisance creating death and mayhem for number one the pedestrian and at least the a holes driving in two lanes and  knocking people down and destroying personal property has become a great concern of these fantastic innovative devices. All they done is create more distractions for people who are stupid enough to believe they can drive a motor vehicle and operate a computer at the same time. Most people can barely operate a computer  when there sitting in front one at home or work. Now they have one they can use while driving (great innovation). I believe the internet, email and texting should be disabled in these devices if operating a motor vehicle. Dialing a number and talking on the phone while driving is bad enough as it is. Most of the general public don't even have the capacity to accomplish this effectively or safely , so now you can operate a computer while driving.  But most of you halfwit idiots think you can. There is your problem. Can apple solve that?

BahoPuwet
BahoPuwet

about 35 yrs or so ago, i asked an evening class professor who was working for GM at the time if Detroit was concerned about Hondas, Toyotas, etc....  

He said something like: "Nope, maybe they get 5% to 8% market share tops. We, especially GM, are just too damn big to lose any sleep about  inroads made Japanese car makers in the US market."

slashnburn
slashnburn

So.. here's the real deal. RIM built a company around their Blackberry Enterprise Server and security software which made their email and most communications practically the safest an average consumer could purchase. This was nice, people liked, people bought their phones and email devices. RIM then decided that they knew better than their customers what they wanted, devices began to lack innovation, features customers WANTED and as RIM was busy losing market share, app designers by natural selection gravitated toward winner platforms of the future and abandoned RIM. Oh well, too bad, so sad. Buh buy RIM, bad business decisions did you in, time to scrap your relics and ruins and make way for a new Apple store!

DoobieBrothers
DoobieBrothers

They can take my Blackberry when they pry it from my cold dead hands. Hey NRA and CCW nut-jobs, see how stoopid that sounds?

spamjoes
spamjoes

RIM lost me as a Blackberry customer after screwing up my favorite phone of all time:  The Blackberry Pearl.  I had the first generation and loved, loved, loved it.  I dropped it about a year and a half into it and had to get a new one, but by this time they had a new model of it and it was full of bloatware and other "features" that made the phone run very slowly.  Even Brickbreaker at times seemed like a slideshow.  Basically, they kept the CPU the same and added a bunch of CPU-hogging stuff that ruined it.  I moved to my first iPhone shortly thereafter because I felt that newer version of the Pearl was just unusable.

JamesJohn1
JamesJohn1

BB is a fantastic product. It's fresh, new and useful.......but that was a decade ago. Now, it's in deep doo doo and they are on the way out the market. 


The BB supporters can talk about how they love their new Z and all, but the market decides who will live and who will die. It looks like they are dying. 

paulmartin200
paulmartin200

Hope they continue BB. I like the tactile feel of a keyboard over a touchscreen.

JeanVillega
JeanVillega

BLACKBERRY IS DEAD !!! REST IN PEACE www.allneedshop.com

kool1
kool1

Blackberry is far from dead - they still have 70-80 million users world wide and are no where near closing the doors.

Hope they can turn it around soon - loving my new Z10!

AdamLeggett
AdamLeggett

"You might think you want a faster browser, but you don’t want to pay overage on your bill" is pretty far from forward thinking.

pilot69sd
pilot69sd

This is a difficult topic. Following what customers want create a "good" product. Foreseeing what customer's may want create a great and often revolutionary product. Case in point referring to the Apple story, Customers did not know that they needed a keyboard-less full touchscreen phone. And at the time with the Palm Treos, BlackBerrys, HP iPaqs, etc., dropping a keyboard was risqué and probably not what the customers really wanted at the time. Customers also did not know that they needed iTunes but Jobs created that market and changed the music industry forever. To me, BlackBerry should have created an Android product that still incorporated the security features of the BlackBerrys but simply in the "background". This would have not been a "home run" product but would have kept interest in their product to stave off dropping sales while they created something really exciting with the spared time.

KevinChieff
KevinChieff

But contrast that excerpt about failing to listen to the customer to Steve Jobs' famous quote: "You can't just ask customers what they want and then try to give that to them. By the time you get it built, they'll want something new." So not listening to customers didn't work for BB, but it did work for Apple?

1seashell
1seashell

Hasn't Blackberry (RIM) ever heard of the old adage that "the customer is always right"?

tgrobe
tgrobe

An MBA didn't help much did it?  Arrogant a****les

Harold_the_Wolf
Harold_the_Wolf

This sounds very much like other market missteps; Word perfect, Novell and Borland.

camcam
camcam

Sounds very much like another tech company that believes they know it all.  Their name starts with an "A".  "Customers don't need bigger screens. 

BillMontei
BillMontei

They were asleep at the wheel.  
Their demise was written by a true innovator, Jobs, and the iPhone was the shovel that buried them.

Jebus
Jebus

Inside story of Blackberry: Saw the rest of the industry going to smartphones and better OS, said "meh lets stick with this old crap."

tejjna
tejjna

This worked GREAT for dunder mifflin when Jim and Michael were co-managers of scranton branch!

TheDarkRoast
TheDarkRoast

Say what? But the battery died at 2PM anyway

eagle11772
eagle11772

Simply said: "Screw the customer !"

VoicesAreUs
VoicesAreUs

What was wrong with RIM? Those co-CEOs. End of story.

oliverwieland
oliverwieland

...and show at off at every meeting. Feedback from people who haven't seen it before is always excellent. The problem with rim is 2 fold. Firstly, 2 years of sleeping on the competition. Secondly, marketing communications fail. Nice try, but fail.

toddrf
toddrf

@DoobieBrothers 

If you have a point, please make it.  I'm unaware of any constitutional protection to owning a Blackberry, if you're trying to draw some parallel between that and people exerting their right to bear arms.

toddrf
toddrf

@kool1 

Oh, they're dead all right.  They lost $1 billion just last quarter and are getting ready to get rid of half their workforce.  Gartner just put out a report recommending companies switch to a different platform.  They may have 70 million users, but that number is going to dwindle quickly.

TomDalton
TomDalton

@kool1 they aren't that far from dead (and I'm a fan) the tactile keyboard was the only differentiator (and possibly a few security elements that the enterprise server provided) but people enmasse have jumped ship to platforms with superior processors, apps, etc.   Plus financially they are a train wreck.   I think they'll go the way of Palm- having owned the market and gave it away- sadly.


AdamLeggett
AdamLeggett

@kool1 You must have missed the news. They are basically closing the doors.

hivemaster
hivemaster

@pilot69sd Never would have worked.  Blackberry security on open source virus ridden platform = disaster.

AdamLeggett
AdamLeggett

@1seashell That is true in customer service. Everywhere else, the customer is usually on to something, but they are not necessarily right.

Pumuckl
Pumuckl

Or another one with "M"

DoobieBrothers
DoobieBrothers

@toddrf @DoobieBrothers: Todd. do you understand sarcasm? If not, here's the definition: 'a sharp, bitter, or cutting expression or remark; a bitter gibe or taunt". Go drink another 6-pack.