We see giants falling all the time, and yet it never fails to surprise.
There hasn’t been a comprehensive thud as yet, but the fall of BlackBerry’s share price mid-June, hot on the heels of disappointing quarterly profits, has caused a fair amount of speculation.
Adding insult to injury was an announcement of layoffs by Research in Motion, BlackBerry’s Canadian manufacturer.
With the advent of iPhone and the Android army, BlackBerry users have become increasingly disgruntled, defecting in the wake of what they perceive to be technological neglect.
Postings on CrackBerry.com illustrate this sentiment, with users grumbling about superior functionality on offer by the wolves scratching at the BlackBerry door: “It’s game over for Blackberry! RIM is way behind!” says one. “Catchup is not going to happen … don’t get me wrong here. I own a BB as my daily device and it works great, but RIM have missed the boat and train.”
Yet despite this, there are the die-hards who say it isn’t over yet.
Another CrackBerry poster says: “I am going to leave BB after 7 or 8 years as a faithful follower, but I won’t say I won’t be back or they are dead.’
If BlackBerry thought it could rest on its reputation as being the first handheld email device to capture the mainstream market, it was obviously mistaken.
Clever marketing saw them promoting the BlackBerry to business people as a communication tool that seamlessly synchronised with in-house computer systems. The result was thousands of companies buying them up for their employees and very soon BlackBerry was well and truly integrated into the security and corporate industries.
Soon individual users also jumped on the bandwagon, catapulting tactile keyboards into a new era.
But with the rising popularity of iPhones, Androids and other smartphones, companies have been inundated with requests from employees who would prefer to use their own devices instead of a company-issued BlackBerry.
The iPhone is a tough act to follow – or even catch up with – and Android devices clearly have no intention of being left behind. Current standards dictate large colourful screens, app stores and ease of use as the minimum requirements to compete.
Thankfully the BlackBerry balance sheet boasts over US$2 billion in cash and no debt. Given that its operations made almost a billion dollars in cash during the last quarter, the assumption is that there is money available to put into research and development.
The story appears to be a classic case of ‘shape up or ship out’.
Rest assured that the Androids and the rest of the crew aren’t holding their breath, waiting to see what BlackBerry elects to do.