Blackberry – Business in Motion

“One of the misconceptions about BlackBerry is that, it’s your parents’ Smartphone”- Thorsten Heins.

Around 2008, I remember watching my parents glued to their BlackBerry devices and wanting to own one. One day my wish came true and I was handed down my mom’s old BlackBerry Curve Smartphone. I used it only to play the popular Brick Breaker game and make calls or send messages, yet it was revered… that is, until the advent of Android.

When asked about their choice of mobile devices now, for most youngsters, BlackBerry is usually the least recommended device with its operating system almost outdated like the Symbian OS used by Nokia devices. Astonishingly, BlackBerry was on top of the mobile game until 2011, when the unprecedented sales of Samsung and HTC android devices along with iPhone sales led to a rapid loss of market shares for BlackBerry.



The Story of yet another Dropout


Dropping out of the course of Electrical engineering from University of Waterloo, two months before graduation, Mike Lazaridis launched Research in Motion (later renamed as BlackBerry Limited) with his childhood friend Douglas Fregin, in 1984.  

The impetus to do so came from a contract he signed with General Motors to develop a network computer control display system. The funding for project came from a small government loan and some money that Mike received from his parents.

Four years later, RIM became the first wireless data technology developer in North America for Mobitex (an open, national public access wireless packet-switched data network). This was just one of the many firsts in the field of technology for Mike, as now he holds more than 30 patents for innovations in wireless technology and software.



Innovation, Emmy and an Oscar 



Most of us know that Leonardo DiCaprio is yet to win an Oscar, however RIM achieved this incredible feat by winning an Academy Award in 1998, for creating a digital film barcode reader called DigiSync Film KeyKode Reader that debuted in 1990!

Leading the field for Technical Innovations, RIM was recognized for introducing the first point of sale terminal for Mobitex, with an Emmy award in 1994.

Two years later, with some help from Ericsson and RAM Mobile Data, RIM developed Mobitex wireless data network into a two way paging and wireless e-mail network. They also introduced the Inter@ctive Pager 950 that they started shipping in 1998 and competing only with Motorola. This soap bar sized device was succeeded by the well-known BlackBerry 850.



Birth and naming of Blackberry



Born in 1999, BlackBerry 850, which sported a monochrome screen and supported limited HTML browsing and email, ignited the BlackBerry craze.

Before the launch Mike Lazaridis felt that the device required a new name that differed from the regular RIM products. So he reached out to Lexicon Branding (a marketing firm) that had previously worked to carve out a name for Apple PowerBook and Intel Pentium among many others.


Wowed by the device and its features, the Lexicon President David Placek thought that it needed a name to complement its personality. The idea of BlackBerry came up when they brainstormed the product names, as from a distance the tiny buttons on the board could be mistaken as blackberries. The distinctive name helped the device stand out as it seemed user friendly and easy to remember.



Competition, Crash and Stabilization


After an incredible run with super successful handsets like BlackBerry Pearl and with support from the loyal corporate users, in June, 2012 the number of global BlackBerry users peaked at 80 million. But in 2014, the market share for BlackBerry had crashed to less than 1%.

The hardware and operating system suddenly became outdated and unappealing compared to the competition, and the browsing capabilities were poorer. Besides, due to poor feedback from users enterprises had started to adopt the “Buy your own device” policy.

Despite much speculation that BlackBerry would not be able to survive as an independent company, with a number of lay-offs, the company managed to stay afloat. Changing its business model from mobile device supplier to a software supplier for securing everything from medical devices to Hollywood movie scripts, the company managed to return to profitability in 2015.

Blackberry security solutions
Blackberry Protect website

Image credit 

Though Blackberry may cut down on their device launches, yet they still enjoy free endorsements from Obama, an ardent BlackBerry user, and from Eric Schmidt, Executive Chairman of Google who finds it easy to handle and type on his BlackBerry phone. 

Meanwhile the company is transitioning into a software provider to address the digital security needs of its core base of clients, such as corporate executives and government officials.

– Post by Shreyashi Chakrabarti



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  • author's avatar

    By: Somali K Chakrabarti

    Hi there! Welcome to Scribble and Scrawl! Here, I delve into themes related to positive lifestyle – from making smart-living choices, savvy financial decisions to nurturing the mind, body and soul. I share my travel experiences, explore facets of art and culture and highlight inspiring stories. Hope you enjoy reading my posts.

  • author's avatar

Somali K Chakrabarti

Hi there! Welcome to Scribble and Scrawl! Here, I delve into themes related to positive lifestyle - from making smart-living choices, savvy financial decisions to nurturing the mind, body and soul. I share my travel experiences, explore facets of art and culture and highlight inspiring stories. Hope you enjoy reading my posts.

  • Very informative article and the technical terms have been explained thoroughly. Thanks Shreyashi .

  • Excellent post Shreyashi :), even BlackBerry is behind in the competition (for now) it is still ruling. It’s software may not be liked by the current generation, many users who are using the BB since it’s birth are still stick with it.
    And it differs from all the android devices. If I might say, it is addressed as an advanced software. One can trust in its reliable functioning.

  • bhudeb chakrabarti

    July 25, 2015 at 5:17 am

    An excellent post by Shreyashi on BlackBerry with interesting information about Blackberry.

  • Even I am still an ardent admirer and user of blackberry. Don’t know for how long. Innovation , pricing and value for money besides functionality is the key for any product to sustain competition and survive. Blackberry still best with emails. Wonder how long will this sustain and compel present users to buy another BB.

  • Superb article. I wanted to have a BlackBerry for many years and always thought of it as a luxury with almost every top-shot owning it.

    But then they fazed way and iPhones are more on the mind these days…so I bought 5s 2 yrs back.

    Happy to see them turn profitable.

  • Thank you Alok. My addiction with mobile had started with my blackberry but after you’ve used android they don’t fit in any more. Seems after their turnaround, they will be focusing more on security products than on mobile phones.

  • A very informative article on BB…well-written… :-) Thanks to Shreyashi… :-)

  • This really is an informative article. It’s always fun to glance at someone else’s journey. There are hidden lessons in them. What one can learn from Blackberry’s story is – if you neglect innovation in your domain, the domain will neglect you soon.

  • I think its almost All the info about BB in a nutshell dear . Well Shreyashi, its a grear post with everything on BB … I loved the naming process :)

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