An ode to the looming death of BlackBerry

QWERTY keypad. Push Email. Instant Messaging on a Mobile Device – later with closed loop integrated Social Networking. Security measures like no other. Un-hackable. App downloads – .jad. BlackBerry did it all. And we loved it when it was high and mighty, but with the advent of phones which were marketed better – the technologically strong, consumer focused company lost its hold. And we wait for it to die.

And, well, it was expected. We humans, after all have a tendency to have a short term memory – especially so, when technological advances are so rapid. Pure researchers are never quite recognized, whereas Marketing geniuses are treated with almost demi-godly reverence. Don’t believe me? – An example from last october – Steve Jobs, a marketing genius, and someone I personally respect, is… well… “famous”, whereas Dennis Ritchie – one of the driving forces behind Unix, and the creator of the C Programming Language – went unrecognized by the masses till mass bbming/texting started.

BlackBerry is doing bad, yet its revenue and net income is in green and not red. Its stocks are falling, but the number of users are increasing. Is BlackBerry really failing or is it our perception?

Here, I would like to take a slight detour, to introduce to you a company that despite being a leader in its field has NOT gone public – Bose. For all those who don’t know what Bose does – it makes speakers. Speakers that sound good. Actually speakers that sound amazing. But why, in my opinion, has it not made itself public (disclaimer : it might be wrong, but kind of makes sense) – because they seem to be focusing on building quality stuff rather than wasting time on earnings calls, and finance oriented meetings. No they are not a financial institution – the make sound systems – including one sound system that levels the next gen Lexus!

BlackBerry on the other hand, or rather RIM, has lost itself trying to stay ahead of not so important (again my opinion) financial forecast calls – they’re not going broke are they? Stocks are based on sentiments and speculations – does that impact the quality of devices? No. And it never would. All it does is impact the moral of the poor guy working his ass off to enable the consumer to have one of the best devices in the world.

BlackBerry is not selling as many devices in the market as the others – the answer is simple – some of the people I know still have their 7xxx and early 8xxx series phones intact, and are more than happy with them. They have not upgraded. The others who had blackberries, are experimental people – they are trying out the newer things. But still the sales of BlackBerry devices has only increased. They are making good phones – with the world’s best qwerty keyboard, and more people are buying them.
Apple – in the late 90s was almost going to go Bankrupt – when Steve Jobs arrived. Also, they required a 150 million USD bailout – provided to them by one Mr. Bill Gates. BlackBerry today is treated as an “almost dead” company. But why? Because the share prices are dwindling? I urge the consumers who believe that a company is more than just what it’s shares reflect, to sit back and think, what as a smartphone, does BlackBerry lack. Yes its a little plain in the interface, but then so is Audi when compared to a Maserati or a Ferrari. Does that mean one has to be wrong for the other to be right?

Till date it has the best qwerty keypad – the 9900’s quality being way superior to the other blackberries let alone other phones. It might not have the quantity of repetitive apps, but it does have an app for every function you require. Yes, it does not have apps to kill your time, or appeal to your creativity, but they will arrive soon with BlackBerry 10. But for everything else, be rest assured, you have an app. And then there’s the BBM – try as hard as people may, BBM still remains the world’s best mobile chat client. So much that it has evolved into a micro-social-networking platform itself.

BlackBerry gave us security – of our data and our privacy, and that is something that we have taken for granted. We believe that other platforms are as secure as this. But let me remind you friends – the only mobile OS never hacked is the BBOS, PB was rooted, only for them to plug the patch, and then DingleBerry 4 to root the new OS was cancelled.
BlackBerry does not store your information without your knowledge, but on the other hand Android stores everything you do, and unless you’re a semi-geek, you won’t be able to stop most of it. It will anyways keep tabs on you – but anonymously. So much for your private chats.

Apple, well it boasted of being so secure that no PC viruses could affect it. Turns out that it was because MAC viruses do. Why weren’t they there earlier – because people perhaps were too lazy, or considered it too much of a task to make a virus that would affect less than 15 percent of the OSes.

I don’t mean to demean any company, but just want to say that no company is without flaws, only that some hide theirs cleverly under brilliant marketing, while others spend more time on actually creating rather than marketing. For example, the low end Android devices are pathetic in their performance (talking about the ones lesser than INR 10,000). But, people still buy them. Why? Because they are made to believe they own a smartphone. It is later that they realize that that piece of hardware is nowhere close to the potential of the software, and while the Nokia feature phones and the Asha series might be a better buy. They will be faster and quicker in what is required of a phone, than a handset that compromises for cost cutting, without optimizing the OS for the lower spec.

This is a plea to RIM – you make brilliant products – so good that I can type this entire post (and many more) on the device, sitting in the backseat of a taxi, going over battered Indian Roads. All this in while I cover 38kms. Tell me another device that I could do this on. Heinz went bankrupt more than once before becoming what it is today, hope in the ages to come I would still be typing another post somewhere on another BlackBerry.

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6 thoughts on “An ode to the looming death of BlackBerry

    1. Hi Nagesh,

      It is a cell phone, to start with. That’s why you bought it, and not an iPod or something. Like I said the apps that appeal to creativity and timepass, are lacking – but they shall appear soon.

      Also, people compare BlackBerry Curve or older versions to the latest phones today. How can you compare a Curve to an iPhone or Sammy S2? If you do, then do so with a 9900.

      BlackBerry is a work phone. Use it for work, and you will find it way ahead of the competition, even today, without the BlackBerry 10. For example, there is no other device that supports outlook owa, without activesync – but you wouldn’t know those things unless you use them. I agree most of those things are enterprise related, but that’s what a BlackBerry is. Enterprise grade security to consumers is their forte.

      It is a cell phone. That is what it is meant to be. it gives you clear voice, good reception (let’s not discuss antennagate again), and a brilliant keypad(again try the 9900). If has all the function-related apps, and less than a handful of form related. Except music. The music codecs in the OS 7 are at par with the best in the industry. It is the best device to stay connected, traditionally or with the new social networks that have cropped up. Unfortunately, we either take these for granted, or don’t know about them – and RIM is somehow not marketing them.

      But yes, if you want a device that you can play Angry Birds on, then just go ahead buy an iPod or a PlayBook like me. BlackBerry just gets work done, unfortunately to distract you from work, you need something else 😉 – (but don’t worry a BlackBerry with all the distractions is coming soon – the dev alpha is out – you can check crackberry for more details)

  1. [ Smiles ] Nice post, Siddhartha.

    I too compose posts on WordPress by using my BlackBerry smartphone.

    Although the BlackBerry is a very competent phone, it is not without its flaws. For example, it takes a very long time to reboot and all BlackBerry users will tell you that the phone freezes up occasionally.

    It is a pity that RIM is going through financial issues.

    Despite their decrease in sales worldwide, BlacKBerry sales have increased in a large way in The Republic of Trinidad and Tobago.

    1. Hi Renard,

      I am not saying it is without flaws. And thankfully RIM is working on it. What I was saying is ALL the phones have some flaw or the other. They mask it under good marketing, while RIM doesn’t.

      Glad to know BlackBerry is serving you well.

      Regards,
      Sid

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