Reading the latest news about yet another disappointing quarter for RIM, with those rumors of some serious executives layoffs, got me thinking about RIM, what used to be the BlackBerry empire, and its’ inability to prevent this downfall.
Here is a short history of articles I’ve published about RIM in the past 4 years and how things looked like from the days the company was one of the largest phones manufacturers in the world all the way to becoming the Palm of our days:
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MAY 21, 2008: RIM becomes the 5th phone manufacturer in the US
Just 4 years ago it seemed like every smartphone out there is actually a BlackBerry phone, and while many people were still using cell-phones – RIM managed to become the fifth-largest phone manufacturer in the US. Amazing achievement which reminds me of the things Apple has been doing in the past few years.
The breakdown, BTW, looked like this: 1- Motorola 27%, 2- Samsung 18%, 3- LG 17%, 4- Nokia 8%, 5- RIM BlackBerry 5%.
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SEP 15, 2008: The prince is dead! Long live the Prince!
RIM bypasses Microsoft’s Windows Mobile in worldwide sales, becoming the second biggest mobile OS in the world after Symbian… Who thought about iPhone and Android back then?
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JUN 13, 2009: Seinfeld laughs about BlackBerry owners
Jumping to 2009, iPhone is already a hit, but people are still talking about BlackBerry phones as if they were the only smartphones out there…
Check out this hilarious piece by Seinfeld talking about BlackBerry people…
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AUG 18, 2009: RIM is the fastest growing company in the world
Believe it or not, this is what I wrote back in August 2009: “I bet you all knew RIM is doing great these days/years, but check this one out: according to Fortune, RIM is the fastest growing company in the world. It's also the company with the fastest growing technology.
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NOV 10, 2009: iPhone is closing in on BlackBerry
Celebrations aside, towards the end of 2009, the world has began to realize Apple is closing in and things might be changing in the smartphones world.
The chart below shows the new trends, and still includes (believe it or not) Palm as one of the “big” smartphones players:
Is that the beginning of the end? Let’s wait and see:
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DEC 21, 2009: Despite of the sharks - RIM is still doing well
Regardless to the aggressive competitors (early Android phones and and the popular iPhone), RIM seemed to be doing just fine – breaking its’ own sales records and probably thinking that the business users will never turn their backs on their beloved BlackBerries…
Here’s what I wrote back then, while creating this shark/BlackBerry image:
“There are analysts that predict the fall of the BlackBerry as Google Android seems to be a stronger platform and Apple's iPhone obviously makes a better entertaining job, but the same magic that made me addicted to my BlackBerry Bold (yes, you need to read it to believe it: The Truth About The BlackBerry Bold) seems to work on everyone...”
Back then I was still switching between our company’s BlackBerry and my private iPhone. I must admit I still liked the Bold those days, I even turned it into a super hero (Iron Man), but it was never a true match to the iPhone’s superior technology…
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2010 is here, and now it’s clear: without a true competitor model to the iPhone, RIM will not be able to keep its’ loyal users for long. Here’s what I had to say about this report:
“Personally, I can understand why BlackBerry users feel a little bit "left out" at the moment. Using both BlackBerry and iPhone, I can really see the difference: while every day I get to try and enjoy new innovative apps or just cool games with my iPhone – all I do with my BlackBerry is sending work emails and… call people. Basic – yes, productive – yes, fun? nope.
Does it mean BlackBerry users will gradually switch to iPhone or Android? I think that the answer is that they are already doing it (by the latest sales results) – but it will not be as fast as it seems, because many BlackBerry users are using BlackBerry as part of they organization mobile strategy, and those policies will not change so fast.”
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MAY 2, 2010: Does RIM Really Have a "Problem"?
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SEP 19, 2010: Smartphones market: Android continues to grow, iPhone continues to drop, RIM beats analysts estimates
Just before 2011’s free falling, RIM managed to surprise once again, and close 2010 with a significant increase in sales. Unfortunately, it was not a true indication of the things that happened during 2011…
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While traveling abroad, I had to switch to my old BlackBerry again, in order to enjoy the unique global data plan. It took me 2 days to despair and go back to my Samsung Omnia 7 (a Windows Phone 7 device), and realize once and for good, that I will never go back to using a BlackBerry device, and that whether RIM knows it already or not, BlackBerry is already dead.
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MAY 3, 2011: PalmOne, Windows Mobile, Now BlackBerry OS?
I actually love this article: it tells the story of 3 legends in the mobile world: PalmOne, Windows Mobile, and BlackBerry. Same story, same symptoms, same ending…
If you never read this one before, check out how Palm, Microsoft and RIM thought they could survive the technology changes with an old, outdated platform.
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That’s it for this mini-overview of BlackBerry’s recent history. Funny enough, I haven’t been able to find any article I wrote about BlackBerry since May 2011. I guess I lost my interest.
BlackBerry OS is currently an old, outdated operating system without a glorious past but no future.
Still, I would be happy to see RIM making a surprising move with the upcoming BlackBerry 10 (built on top of QNX – the same OS running inside the PlayBook). In MWC I was actually impressed with the new PlayBook, It’s a really good tablet and the OS is great.
I hope the smartphones version of this promising OS will be as solid. Not sure it will be enough to make RIM successful again, but who knows?