It's not over till BlackBerry says it's over

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One of the most confounding thoughts in the history of American business is the fact Coca Cola could have bought Pepsi in the 1930s. The biggest soda maker in the world at one point could have ended its chief rival. Now that’s not to say another company wouldn’t have surged up and become what Pepsi is today, but Coke versus Pepsi is the go-to reference for blood rival businesses. That would be like Ford buying Chevy during it's bankruptcy, HBO buying Showtime at any point, or Apple buying BlackBerry today. Problem is Apple might have missed its window to rid itself of BlackBerry, as the fallen smartphone giant is clawing it's way back to relevance.

Before Apple changed the mobile device world with the iPhone, there was RIM’s, or Research in Motion, BlackBerry. At it's height in 2006, the BlackBerry and all smartphones were mostly business tools meant for sending emails and scheduling meetings with it's famous keyboard and trackball, trying to do anything else was absolute nightmare. Come 2007, the iPhone hit the market and changed the way all consumers saw their phones. Suddenly businessmen as well as regular consumers could enjoy mobile messaging as well mobile gaming, photo sharing, web browsing, and a touch screen that was so intuitive it made everyone in tech say “Why didn’t we think of that?” It took RIM a year to respond with it's own touch screen phone the “BlackBerry Storm,” but it's rushed design and business oriented user experience failed to draw consumers attention.

Today saying you use a BlackBerry (no longer known as RIM) is akin to saying you rotary phone. It seems only the President (a devout and well-known BlackBerry user) and a few masked men use BlackBerry’s. As of summer 2015, just 0.3% of worldwide cellphone users had Blackberries. That is a monumental drop from when 43% of cellphones were Blackberrys. 0.3% is embarrassing, the only other former tech giant that might know what that feels like is Myspace. The difference is Myspace had the good sense to pack it in when things got bad, whereas BlackBerry refuses to wave the white flag.

Oddly enough, while BlackBerry has been on death watch for years, its latest last gasp has given the faithful a sign of possible resurgence. For the first time since the iPhone revolution, BlackBerry has put out a device that embraces a mobile user experience are comfortable with; Android. The Priv (easily the worst name in the mobile device game) is a high-end Android smartphone designed by BlackBerry’s which features the traditional slide out keyboard and popular BlackBerry services such as BlackBerry Messenger.

Why install the Android operating system? Because this is truly the eleventh hour for BlackBerry and instead of selling off the few features that keep its few users around, its decided to throw one last hail mary. The funny thing is this shot in the dark seems to be connecting. According to BlackBerry, The Priv is currently sold out on Amazon. Apparently a phone from a near dead company, that abandons its decade long operating system, and is currently only available on the AT&T network is something of a hit. Not only is Amazon sold out, but so is Best Buy and B&H, and now Verizon is advertising the Priv will soon be available for it's network as well.

Will BlackBerry march back to market dominance? Extremely unlikely, but if this surge continues and BlackBerry climbs from 0.3% market share to say 5 or 10%, Apple will regret not acquiring BlackBerry when its share price was in the gutter.

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


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