Time to take BlackBerry off life support

This article was first published by dmcityview.com

It is officially time to call it; the BlackBerry is dead. It doesn’t matter that it dominated the planet before the iPhone or that the President of the United States was it's number one fan years after the platform lost all of its cultural cachet. The classic BlackBerry design of a phone with a half screen, half physical keyboard, with a mouse like menu/selector button is toast. It doesn’t matter which BlackBerry OS 10 devices we talk about; the Q10, Z10, Z30, Passport, or Classic, all versions of BlackBerry technology that are not iPhone-style, single piece of glass screen are officially collectors items.

What went wrong? I mean companies have been obtusely stubborn about their importance and style in the past, but few have gone down with the ship. Ford famously opened the door to competitors in the early 20th century when it refused to sell cars that weren’t painted black, and Apple was so stubborn about its locked-in computing environment that its second home computer nearly sunk the company. But in both of these examples both companies eventually reversed course and re-cemented their dominance as leading names in their industry. BlackBerry must have known it was way off course trying to sell phones with a physical keyboard in 2010, let alone 2016.

BlackBerry may not be publicly stating exactly what’s happening internally but if you’ve seen the last hour of James Cameron’s Titanic there’s little doubt. BlackBerry hit an iPhone iceberg in the mid-2000s and has been sinking slowly into chilly, bankrupt waters ever since. As it stands BlackBerry only rivals Microsoft for market share irrelevance with both platforms holding less than 1% of global market share. Of course Microsoft can completely shudder its smartphone efforts and be fine, BlackBerry has nothing beyond its mobile devices. Think Titanic isn’t an apt metaphor? What do you think is going to happen next?

While BlackBerry riding the business user wave of the late 90s and early 2000s, Nokia and Motorola were absolutely commanding the consumer seas. Where’s Nokia today? Well in 2013 it was acquired by Microsoft, stripped for parts, and then written off as a nearly $8 billion failure in 2016. Motorola on the other hand seemed to be on track to stay relevant as it had the first line of successful Android phones in the late 2000s and eventually was acquired by Google for more than $12 billion. Of course, happy endings are only a matter of where the story ends. Google did to Motorola almost exactly what Microsoft did to Nokia; Motorola was pillaged for its patents and sold to Lenovo for a bargain price of $3 billion.

So if tech history is any indication, BlackBerry’s days are numbered. If both Microsoft and Google have already made their acquisition missteps look for another mobile hopeful to dress down BlackBerry. Who exactly is anyone’s guess. Maybe Facebook or possibly Snapchat; basically look for someone who wants in on the smart device war but is light on intellectual property patents. At this point that is most certainly the most valuable thing BlackBerry owns. If someone was going to save the dying mobile brand it would have happened already, truly all that’s left is rummage through their pockets and look for loose change.

But as BlackBerry sinks completely into the tech ocean, let’s take three sentences to remember it's former greatness. At one time Blackberry nearly held half the global mobile market. As lame as it sounds now, BlackBerry’s were at one point commonly referred to as CrackBerries. Everyone either wanted one or couldn’t take their hands off them. But today that’s all gone, the markets moved on, the President has moved on, and it is officially time to pull the plug on BlackBerry.

Patrick Boberg is a central Iowa creative media specialist. For more tech insights, follow him on Twitter @PatBoBomb


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