Blackberry Blew It’s Last Chance

In an article published today, Message unread: Silicon Valley’s secret, failed bid to save BlackBerryThe Verge reveals that Blackberry blew it’s last chance to survive last summer.  Entrepreneur and angel investor Robin Chan published a slide deck he called “Project BBX” where he says that,

“Over a year ago, I helped form a secret product and engineering team based in Silicon Valley that was keenly interested in taking over the company.”

With BlackBerry now finally officially looking to sell, they should have taken it.

Essentially the plan would have been:

  1. Leverage what was left of the brand by creating an enterprise targeted version of Android on Crackberry phone hardware.
  2. Abandon your own OS, cause they waited too long to do something and now it’s too late to safe it.
  3. Dump your crappy new management team, cause they just don’t get it.
  4. Extend your apps and services cross platform to iOS and other devices.
Note that this was proposed a year ago, before they went totally nuts and built a new OS and devices.  Back when they might have had a chance.  But they were on this self destruct path for way too long and in total total denial that Apple had completely changed the game, right out from under them.

Why did Blackberry Fail so Miserably ?

This sentence in the last paragraph of the Verge story, sums up the reason why Blackberry failed.

While Chan was pitching his takeover proposal, Thorsten Heins was categorically denying that RIM was in trouble: in fact, he insisted that there was “nothing wrong with the company as it exists right now.”

But it really started long long ago.  Back before Apple reinvented what a smartphone was with the iPhone.  Back when the smartest phone you could find was Blackberry, Palm based thingys and  Microsoft Windows CE/Mobile/”whatever the hell” (back then Microsoft changed the name of their Windows OS for phones and PDAs several times).  
Being a geek, I admired the technology of those devices back then, but also knew that the User eXperience (UX) blew chunks.  And they weren’t much smarter then…..well, a phone.  Some weren’t even that smart.  Some couldn’t even make phone calls reliably – micro(cough).
Actually I’d argue that what Apple did is FINALLY invent what a smartphone should be.  Everything before the iPhone was not what a smartphone should have been, and wasn’t even worthy of being called a smartphone.  
All of the players back then, including RIM (Blackberry) seemed totally baffled as to what a smartphone should be.  And some didn’t even have a handle on the basics, like make phone calls and don’t crash.  They all missed the IT.  It was about the UX stupid.  And the moment that Apple first showed the iPhone, I knew they got it.  FINALLY somebody got it !!!
That’s why Blackberry failed.  They never really got IT… UX.  So when Apple came along and created this friendly, high quality, pretty thing that just worked, Blackberry was flabbergasted when it took off like crazy.  They were clueless about IT from the very start.  So was everybody else in mobile when the iPhone hit in 2007.
I think the plan might have saved Blackberry.  They would still be an also ran, but maybe they’d have a less embarrassing market position than Microsoft does in mobile.  Which granted, isn’t saying much.  But it beats dead any day of the week….
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