BlackBerry's Collapse: 5 Key Mistakes

BlackBerry, once king of the smartphone market, now finds itself considering 'strategic options.' Here's how it all came apart.

Eric Zeman, Contributor

August 16, 2013

2 Min Read

4. It Didn't Take BYOD Seriously

One of BlackBerry's core strengths is the BlackBerry Enterprise Server. The BES is the tool used by businesses to manage their fleets of BlackBerrys. It remains a capable and incredible service for mobile device management.

Once the iPhone and Android were proven enterprise devices able to run business apps, some businesses began to let employees pick their own smartphones. Guess what they picked? iPhones and Android smartphones, not BlackBerrys.

The problem is that BES was unable to manage the iPhone and Android devices in the way it can manage BlackBerrys. Enterprises began to allow mass adoptions of these competing products and had to choose other solutions to manage them. BlackBerry didn't add the ability to control the iPhone and Android smartphones to BES until BES 10 was released this year.

5. It Delayed BlackBerry 10 Until 2013

BlackBerry debuted BlackBerry 10, its next-generation operating system, in January 2013. The first BB10 devices hit the market shortly thereafter. Of course, by this time, Apple's iOS was onto its sixth major generation, Google's Android was onto its fourth major generation, and even Microsoft's Windows Phone platform was on its third major generation. BlackBerry 10 would have been late to the game if it showed up in January 2012, let alone January 2013.

Of course, building an operating system from scratch is no easy task. Had Lazaridis and Balsillie reacted to the iPhone immediately in 2007 (or even to Android in late 2008), it's possible they could have gotten something improved to the market by early 2010. That alone could have helped significantly.

But they didn't. The company released two more iterative updates to its aging platform (BlackBerry OS 6 and OS 7). These were both significant improvements over BlackBerry OS 5, but not nearly enough to compete with Android and iOS.

Along with the iterative OS updates, the company stuck with iterative hardware updates, too. The Bold, Curve and Pearl lines remained essentially unchanged for years, despite the interesting and new form factors being introduced by makers of Android devices.

At the end of the day, BlackBerry's current predicament traces back to poor leadership. It's truly a shame, because the company had plenty going for it.

Now the company's fate is surrounded by questions. Will anyone buy it? If they do, what will become of the smartphone maker? Will it be sold in pieces, which seems likely, or as a single company? Will it be shut down or kept alive? There will be no fairy-tale ending for the former smartphone king.

About the Author(s)

Eric Zeman


Eric is a freelance writer for InformationWeek specializing in mobile technologies.

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