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Blackberry Businesses

How BlackBerry Blew It 278

Posted by samzenpus
from the what-happened dept.
schnell writes "The Globe and Mail is running a fascinating in-depth report on how BlackBerry went from the world leader in smartphones to a company on the brink of collapse. It paints a picture of a company with deep engineering talent but hamstrung by arrogance, indecision, slowness to embrace change, and a lack of internal accountability. From the story: '"The problem wasn't that we stopped listening to customers," said one former RIM insider. "We believed we knew better what customers needed long term than they did."'"
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How BlackBerry Blew It

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  • by K. S. Kyosuke (729550) on Monday September 30, 2013 @06:07PM (#44996193)
    So shouldn't they change brand to BlewBerry instead?
    • by ackthpt (218170) on Monday September 30, 2013 @06:17PM (#44996271) Homepage Journal

      So shouldn't they change brand to BlewBerry instead?

      Too bad they weren't bought out by Microsoft. With Ballmer's lack of vision exceeded only by their own it could have been Ballmerberry.

      comes pre-loaded with chair throwing app!

    • by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Monday September 30, 2013 @06:18PM (#44996273) Journal
      Just you wait: if Qualcomm buys them out we can have BREWberry, the world's most hostile mobile development environment!
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      Blackberry was killed by their failure to upgrade their infrastructure.

      Do you guys remember when they lost all emails, not once but TWICE in a matter of a week? That was what got businesses to say "oh shit, this isn't something we can depend on" and get other phones working. I'll bet that they're still running all their services through that same fucked up server in Ontario, despite the failure they've had on the unit.

      Once that seed of doubt got planted, compounded by the fact that people could start usin

      • by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Monday September 30, 2013 @07:34PM (#44996827) Journal
        It probably didn't help that (at fundamental cost to battery life, and significant but theoretically solvable cost in fancy management) phones got powerful enough to just do email. No second set of not-exactly-mailservers in the loop (either for reliability or security concerns), on the corporate side you now need to sell a BES(and as the 'better than your existing mailserver alone' option rather than the 'well, do you want mobile email or not?' option), on the consumer side you need to sell a telco on giving you a cut of the action in exchange for a modest reduction in data transfer, and the handset customer on an increasingly uncompetitive device.

        Even if it were perfect, RIM's fancy proprietary network was not exactly getting more viable with age. Any deviations from perfection were just nails in the coffin.
      • by gl4ss (559668) on Monday September 30, 2013 @07:37PM (#44996859) Homepage Journal

        they never were a world leader either. them being a world leader in smartphones either needs very clever defining of smartphones or very clever defining of what counts as "world".

        they never penetrated certain markets, because they were tied to operators - their phones were never cheap enough to be world leader in unit numbers.

        practically nobody bought blackberries with their own money for full price happily.

  • by hype7 (239530) <u3295110NO@SPAManu.edu.au> on Monday September 30, 2013 @06:11PM (#44996211) Journal

    "We believed we knew better what customers needed long term than they did."

    Yeah, except Steve Jobs thought this too, and look where Apple is.

    This piece is interesting as a historical account but, like all these journalistic articles on why something happened, it's all hindsight 20/20 bullshit. If you want to understand why you can't trust the press to really explain the cause and effect of events, I encourage you to check out this book: The Halo Effect [amazon-adsystem.com]. Tears it all apart.

    • by e_armadillo (14304) on Monday September 30, 2013 @06:15PM (#44996247) Journal

      Actually, Blackberry just thought they knew what the customers would need. Apple actually know what the customers would want.

      • by manu0601 (2221348)
        Or did Apple just convinced customers that they wanted what Apple wanted them to want?
    • by MightyMartian (840721) on Monday September 30, 2013 @06:24PM (#44996315) Journal

      Indeed. The problem is deeper than daring to assume one knew better than the customer what the customer wanted. The failure, I think, was that Blackberry had boxed themselves into a corner by marketing themselves as a business solution. Fundamentally it was a failure of marketing. Apple's genius isn't really the devices or the operating system, though they're pretty well done, but rather in being able to use that acumen to guide customer choices. As much as we all like to think we're driven strictly by utilitarian requirements, the fact is that people like shiny bobbles over dull functional ones.

      In many respects the first iPhone didn't have much to offer over your average Blackberry, but it looked cool, and more importantly, was built on top of hte marketing and technology of the iPod. Apple already had a leg up in having produced a killer device and knew how to extend that to the smartphone. Basically, the Blackberry become the staid competitor, functional to be sure, but lacking the "hip" factor. It became like a snowball for Apple. More customers meant more developers, more developers meant bigger app store, bigger app store meant more customers.

      You still see the Crackberry types not getting it. They talk about things like real keyboards, about BES and other enterprise tools. They all became irrelevant, particularly when Apple licensed ActiveSync, completely undermining the whole enterprise justification for Blackberry. Now you could connect to your Exchange email and calendar. Sure, maybe it wasn't quite as nifty as the BB one, but it didn't matter. iOS became like many successful technologies; good enough for certain tasks to eliminate any particular handicap from lack of complete functionality.

      Microsoft has suffered a similar fate with its mobile offerings. Too late to the party, wrongheaded marketing that indicates that not only the engineers and dev teams don't get what customers want, but neither does the marketing team.

      Android's route to success has been somewhat different. Rather than trying to out-hip Apple, Google has managed to get Android on everything from high end smartdevices right down to bargain basement devices. By seizing the low-end, it has gained massive penetration.

      Blackberry and Microsoft simply don't have a lot of room to smack into the market, and for Blackberry, that really doesn't have any other product besides its phones and BES, there isn't any other monster divisions to keep the whole show afloat until there is some penetration.

      • by Anonymous Coward on Monday September 30, 2013 @06:40PM (#44996419)

        Don't fall in to geek circlejerk trap that apple devices as shiny and pretty and vapid but un-functional. They are shiny and pretty and vapid absolutely extremely functional. Apple is the /king/ of functional.

        We geeks can have a very very very warped idea of what functional is. Your laundry list of pet functions and features is not function. It's bloat. It's complication. It's wasted development time and money. Adding just one more feature increases complexity and cost in an exponential manner, not a linear one. Adding that FM radio, command line shell, and sweedish ball tickler makes the device less functional for everyone who's outside those function's use cases.

        • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

          by phantomfive (622387)

          Adding just one more feature increases complexity and cost in an exponential manner, not a linear one.

          If adding features increases complexity and cost in an exponential manner, it's an indication that you don't have proper separation of concerns.

          Because that's where the extra cost comes from, integrating things together.

        • by dbIII (701233)

          Apple is the /king/ of functional.

          Ever used iTunes for MS Windows?

      • by hawkbat05 (1952326) on Monday September 30, 2013 @07:10PM (#44996655)

        Licensing ActiveSync didn't completely undermine the enterprise need for BlackBerry. Ask a CIO what his biggest headaches are, I bet that managing BYOD is at or near the top of the list. And this is years after ActiveSync, according to you, solved all the enterprise issues of iOS. I agree that getting ActiveSync support opened the door for the iPhone to enter the enterprise but it was far from a silver bullet.

        • by monzie (729782)
          As a former BlackBerry user and a current Android user - I can say with certainity that ActiveSync on Android works. BlackBerry touts it's security but Androd ( especially after ICS ) supports a lot of those 'enterprise' features like remote wipe as well. I recently switched to an Andriod phone. At work we've moved to office365.com for our email needs. As you might be aware the email is offered via outlook.office365.com - which is basically a hosted Exchange server Since we're BYOD, when I setup my Androi
      • by SuperKendall (25149) on Monday September 30, 2013 @07:18PM (#44996711)

        As much as we all like to think we're driven strictly by utilitarian requirements, the fact is that people like shiny bobbles over dull functional ones.

        This indicates a fundamental misunderstanding of what the iPhone was at launch.

        And what that was, was simply the most FUNCTIONAL smartphone that existed at the time. But a huge margin.

        Blackberry was more functional for email then, but that was it. For most other things for most users iOS was FAR more functional. Using maps was more functional. Web browsing was 1000000x more functional.

        Even without the third party app support iOS enjoys now, the simple truth was that for the things most people wanted to do with a smart phone, iOS was more functional than all the other alternatives. That it was also shiny was utterly irrelevant, it just made it lots harder for others to catch up because they got lost in the shine and ignored the function (which remains true to this day, sadly).

        Shiny things at best have a brief flare of success and then die. Truly successful products always have a core of solid functionality that brings people back for more instead of being driven away by novelty.

      • by swb (14022)

        I'd say Microsoft stumbled even worse than Blackberry.

        Microsoft owned ActiveSync, Exchange AND Windows Mobile. They should have been what Android has largely become. They controlled the email server, the protocol and a usable (if retarded by today's standards) operating system with a bunch of handset makers building handsets.

        It would have been TRIVIAL for MS by iteslf to own the smartphone market with those three things.

        Blackberry was undone by boring phones and their relentless greed for BES licenses.

        • According to Balmer, they didn't because they needed all hands on deck to deal with xp security issues and the rewrite of longhorn into vista.

      • by mattack2 (1165421)

        In many respects the first iPhone didn't have much to offer over your average Blackberry

        Did your "average Blackberry" have "full" web browsing? Yes, I put full in quotes, to hopefully quell the "it doesn't/didn't do Flash" responses. It did work with 'regular' web sites, not only mobile versions/that stripped down HTML that didn't really take off.

    • by roc97007 (608802) on Monday September 30, 2013 @06:27PM (#44996343) Journal

      > Yeah, except Steve Jobs thought this too, and look where Apple is.

      Difference is, Jobs was right. At least, enough of the time.

    • by wjcofkc (964165) on Monday September 30, 2013 @06:44PM (#44996449)
      The difference is...

      Blackberry thought they knew and were wrong.

      Jobs thought he knew and was right.

      Now Apple is at the height of their mobile success, a place BB once was. Only now they don't have Jobs...

      Say what your want of him, the mind of Steve Jobs was the difference between the two companies. Regardless of the success of their latest release, in five-years we maybe be posting about an entry titled "How Apple Blew It".
      • by bloodhawk (813939)
        With Hindsight anything is easy to predict with 100% accuracy. Apple, while on the decline now, picked that consumers wanted simple interfaces and trendy items and would happily compromise on features for that. Myself and many others thought apple was wrong at the time. Consumers are very hard to predict as Blackberry found out and as Apple are finding out now.
        • by MightyMartian (840721) on Monday September 30, 2013 @07:01PM (#44996595) Journal

          Blackberry's problem was that it didn't even think about average consumers. It had enterprise offerings, concentrated on the market, not realizing that there is a positive feedback loop between what you use at home and what you use in the office. By the time it figured out that iPhone had gained penetration in the enterprise precisely because people wanted to use the same device at the office that they used at home, they had lost their momentum.

          • by darrylo (97569)

            It's more than that (although what you wrote is certainly right).

            One of Blackberry's (arguably many) problems is that they failed to realize how the consumer market, being much larger than the enterprise market, could drive the enterprise market. As others have said, by going after the consumer market, by allowing independent devs to profit off the consumer market, and by having a reasonable development system, Apple attracted a boatload of devs and, therefore, features and functionality. Eventually, if y

        • by bondsbw (888959)

          Apple, while on the decline now

          While I predict this to come to pass sooner than later, it isn't true just yet. Apple was just ranked the world's most valuable brand, and recently broke sales records with the iPhone 5S and 5C.

      • by eulernet (1132389)

        Blackberry thought they knew and were wrong.
          Jobs thought he knew and was right.

        This is incorrect: nobody "knows".

        Every company put their bet on their own concept.
        Jobs was simply more successful than Blackberry, and I don't think that there is a simple answer why, but it's mostly luck.

        Now that Jobs is gone, let's see who will be more successful.

    • I think Jobs took consumers to products they didn't know they wanted... yet. Blackberry seems to have simply started shoving customers over a cliff into products they didn't want or care about.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by sootman (158191)

      "The problem wasn't that we stopped listening to customers," said one former RIM insider. "We believed we knew better what customers needed long term than they did."

      The problem was being brain-dead in the face of fucking facts.

      "Consumers would say, 'I want a faster browser.' We might say, 'You might think you want a faster browser, but you don't want to pay overage on your bill.'"

      To which I would say "I'm paying $30/mo for unlimited data. Make your shit work."

      "'Well, I want a super big very responsive touchscreen.' 'Well, you might think you want that, but you don't want your phone to die at 2 p.m.'"

      To which I would say "My friend's iPhone lasts all day no problem. Make your shit work."

    • by dj245 (732906)

      "We believed we knew better what customers needed long term than they did."

      Yeah, except Steve Jobs thought this too, and look where Apple is.

      This piece is interesting as a historical account but, like all these journalistic articles on why something happened, it's all hindsight 20/20 bullshit. If you want to understand why you can't trust the press to really explain the cause and effect of events, I encourage you to check out this book: The Halo Effect [amazon-adsystem.com]. Tears it all apart.

      The bigger problem is that they didn't come up with much new in the last 4 years, which is an eternity in the mobile market. The stuff they did come up with wasn't very inspired, or wasn't useful to their customers. Whenever they borrowed new ideas from their competition (which is not necessarily a bad thing), their implementation was inferior to the competition. Unfortunately at this point the survival of the company itself is in doubt*, which means that every company with the slightest amount of foresi

  • by mederbil (1756400) on Monday September 30, 2013 @06:12PM (#44996219)

    As a computer engineering student at the University of Waterloo, I have met many folks who have worked at BlackBerry. Their problem is that they have too much management and not enough development. The entire company consists of tiny teams being micro managed and not coordinating with other teams. They would have done better with large teams, with one very busy manager. This is how every other large and successful tech company I have worked for has been managed. This is the key here, in my opinion.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Their problem is that they have too much management and not enough development.

      Show me an engineer at any organization who doesn't think he/she is over-managed, and I'll show you one who was just promoted to manager.

    • by willy_me (212994) on Monday September 30, 2013 @07:56PM (#44996989)

      It was reported that Apple works is a similar fashion - small groups of engineers working on specific projects. When you bring too many engineers in on a project the management overhead becomes immense. The difference was likely with the quality and style of management. The fact that Jobs was a control freak, semi-tech savvy, and personally interested in the products likely worked in Apple's favor. No bickering between different divisions of management when they know Jobs will send them packing - being the ass he reportedly could be. RIMs downfall likely comes down to poor coordination between different sections of management. They had plenty of good engineers at their disposal, but they were not utilized correctly.

      One has to give Jobs some credit - he was obviously not in it for money or politics, he wanted to make stuff he thought was great. (And fortunately for Apple, other people also shared in his sense of style.) This differs from other CEOs I've read about in that they appear to be more interested in playing politics to their own benefit. They don't appear to be interested in making anything let alone doing what is best for the company. The next quarter stock price - that is the only thing that is important. (But one tends to only hear about the bad ones so this is probably is not an accurate generalization - although reading SlashDot sure gives one this impression.)

      • by TheLink (130905)

        The difference was Jobs was an asshole with a sense of taste.

        Lots of CEOs can do the asshole part easily, but they just don't have taste.

  • by bre_dnd (686663) on Monday September 30, 2013 @06:13PM (#44996227)
    If I asked my customers what they wanted, they'd say they wanted a faster horse. Innovation comes from thinking out of the box.

    I worked on some mobile e-mail product some 8 years ago. Call it a Blackberry competitor -- it ran on phones like the Palm Treo, Nokia E61 and various Windows Mobile devices. There was rumours of Apple making a phone -- and when it came out, it had no keys... I remember thinking -- how are you ever going to type a message without keys? Well...

    • by Lproven (6030) on Monday September 30, 2013 @06:24PM (#44996317) Homepage Journal

      > I remember thinking -- how are you ever going to
      > type a message without keys? Well...

      Wait, wait, I know this one.

      "Slowly, and with difficulty," amirite?

      • by neminem (561346)

        Yeah. No-keyboard phones blow. I understand you can make them more cheaply, but screw that, I'll pay for it. It's depressing how few of them get made anymore, because apparently there's "no market for them". Well, gee, nobody is buying phones with keyboards, maybe because they're *not being made*.

        • by mythosaz (572040) on Monday September 30, 2013 @06:59PM (#44996581)

          I resisted virtual keyboards. It was natural, I assume. I had resisted T9 predictive text before that.

          Today's good keyboards, like Swiftkey or Swype (which I prefer), are great. Dragon is leaps and bounds ahead of where it was years ago.

          I don't miss having a physical keyboard on my phone.
          I don't miss having T9 typing.
          I adapted.
          You can too.

        • Blackberry has made lots of phones with keyboards. There is nearly a billion dollars in inventory, much of it with keyboards, and they can't move that inventory.

          The keyboard didn't just become hard to find, it fell completely out of fashion.

          • by neminem (561346)

            They're also Blackberries. I hate 16:9 screens, too, but if my laptop died, and I had a choice between buying a new laptop with a hated 16:9 screen, or buying a laptop that was 10 years old, I would be depressed, and then I would choose the former.

            Blackberries suck compared to their competition for all kinds of other reasons than whether they have a keyboard.

            • by Lproven (6030)

              This.

              But the QNX ones look quite good - if only they made them with a decent landscape format keyboard.

              The ultimate smartphone formfactor was the Nokia Communicator: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nokia_E90_Communicator [wikipedia.org]

              If someone made one of those again, I'd buy it whatever OS it ran... Android, Sailfish Jolla, Tizen, Blackberry 10, even Windows Phone.

    • by ddtstudio (61065)

      You're missing something (no discredit to you; a Google project manager recently made basically the same mistake). You can conduct many kinds of user research (UX) that are far more insightful and reliable than "asking customers what they want".

      I'll agree with you that it's a loser's game to ask customers and potential customers what they want. First, people will try to help you, and thus give you bad data (examples: "I love what you did" focus groups, asking people what TV shows they watch). Second, they m

    • by Frankie70 (803801)

      If I asked my customers what they wanted, they'd say they wanted a faster horse. Innovation comes from thinking out of the box.

      I worked on some mobile e-mail product some 8 years ago.

      That is thinking out of the box. Providing customers with mobile e-mail when they wanted a faster horse.

  • by Dzimas (547818) on Monday September 30, 2013 @06:15PM (#44996241)
    Blackberry blew it the same way many companies do. Their original OS was antiquated, and so they abandoned it and adopted QNX as the foundation of BlackBerry 10.

    That required them to write all of their core apps from the ground up, and they dramatically underestimated the effort required. The result was the disastrous release of the Playbook without an email client. Some say that the decision to release the Playbook instead of a BB10-equipped phone was also a critical error, but there's no way that the company could have released a phone instead -- it would have required some significant components that simply didn't exist when the PlayBook was first rolled out: a contact manager, dialing software, BBM, SMS, and of course email.

    • by Animats (122034) on Monday September 30, 2013 @06:42PM (#44996435) Homepage

      Blackberry blew it the same way many companies do. Their original OS was antiquated, and so they abandoned it ... That required them to write all of their core apps from the ground up, and they dramatically underestimated the effort required.

      Apple blew it that way, too. More than once. The original Mac was a cool toy, but too slow, and lacked a hard drive. IBM built their PC market share selling DOS machines with a hard drive to businesses. The user interface was ugly, but there was no need to change floppies.

      After Apple finally built up the Mac into a usable machine, with a hard drive and enough RAM to get something done, they had a few good years, then blew it again. The transition from the Motorola 68000 to the PowerPC broke all old applications that used floating point. Few of the engineering software vendors even bothered to port to PowerPC. Apple market share dropped to single digits. Then Apple tried to dump their antiquated MacOS for a new "OS 8", called Copeland. That required rewriting applications again. It wasn't realized within Apple that Apple no longer had the clout to tell developers what to do. Apple had to go with a different "OS 8" borrowed from NeXT, which cost them a year.

      Apple's market share in desktops didn't break out of single digits again until after the mobile devices became popular.

    • by Ichijo (607641)
      They should have built a "classic environment [wikipedia.org]" to run the old e-mail client in the new OS until a native version of the e-mail client was available.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Monday September 30, 2013 @07:01PM (#44996599)

      I'm a former BlackBerry OS developer; you don't know what you're talking about. The BB OS is still a cutting edge RTOS that was carefully honed for performance and battery life. In fact, QNX is worse in many, many ways.

      When asked why the CEO made the switch to QNX, we were given a list of features. When informed that BB OS already had those features, a meek "I didn't know that" was followed by a quick subject change to restore the arrogance field.

      If you want to call the Java Apps and the JVM old and slow, I'd agree. The rewrite problem was well known to those outside of the arrogance field, but again, who am I?

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        The rewrite problem was well known to those outside of the arrogance field, but again, who am I?

        We don't know. You can claim you're anyone.

  • He says,

    “The problem wasn’t that we stopped listening to customers,” said one former RIM insider. “We believed we knew better what customers needed long term than they did. Consumers would say, ‘I want a faster browser.’ We might say, ‘You might think you want a faster browser, but you don’t want to pay overage on your bill.’ "

    I'm not sure there's a meaningful difference between "not listening to" and "listening and then disregarding" what the customer w

    • by oodaloop (1229816)
      I'm guessing the logic is that with a faster browser, you would load more pages in the same amount of time. I'm not agreeing with it, necessarily, but I do believe I use more data now with 4G LTE than I did with 3G.
    • by Dzimas (547818) on Monday September 30, 2013 @06:41PM (#44996427)
      I bought a deeply discounted PlayBook, and I think they did a lot of things right. The hardware was top-notch and the multitasking OS stood up well against Android and iOS at that point. If BB10 had been released a year earlier with proper core apps (email, contacts, BBM) and attracted top-tier apps, it could well have been a major competitor.
      • Lots of companies in lots of industries could have been "major competitors" if only they hadn't made huge strategic mistakes. Tautologies works exactly that way.

  • by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Monday September 30, 2013 @06:17PM (#44996265) Journal
    Maybe all their genuinely cool stuff was taken out back and shot before it saw the light of day; but I'm not sure (based on what they actually sent to market) that "We believed we knew better what customers needed long term than they did."

    There are companies where you can clearly say "Wow, Company X is under the insane delusion that $SOMETHING$ is the future, all evidence to the contrary, and damn are they ever stubbornly shoveling that something into the utter indifference of the marketplace!" This isn't a compliment, exactly; but being a high-functioning delusive beats being a dysfunctional one.

    Blackberry, though? The greatest compliment you can pay to their earlier years, and the greatest condemnation of their later ones, is that they seemed frozen in time, only worse. They weren't quite frozen (had they been, you'd at least be able to read your text-only communications and basic voice for a zillion hours with modern battery and silicon tech); but they never went anywhere. Their OS just got slower and more confusing as it mutated toward no particular goal, battery-sapping quasi-smart features were grafted on, cargo-cult style, to a system that never really made anything of them.
  • by tmark (230091) on Monday September 30, 2013 @06:19PM (#44996283)

    "The problem wasn't that we stopped listening to customers, We believed we knew better what customers needed long term than they did".

    Believing you know what customers wanted or needed is not necessarily the problem. Customers don't always know what they want. Apple (or, it appears, perhaps just Jobs) made hay giving what customers evidently wanted instead of listening to industry pundits and market research to figure that out. The problem here was that Blackberry just didn't know what their customers wanted, and moreover, couldn't deliver in a timely fashion.

  • by acoustix (123925) on Monday September 30, 2013 @06:21PM (#44996295) Homepage

    It's damn near impossible for a company to succeed with 2 CEO's.

  • One trick pony (Score:5, Insightful)

    by wiredlogic (135348) on Monday September 30, 2013 @06:23PM (#44996305)

    Blackberry's business was built around mobile e-mail. Their transition from pager devices to smartphones brought along with it their original NIH, vendor lock-in strategy. They never *got* smartphones as flexible devices using open protocols because that's not how their business started and they didn't move fast enough to embrace changing market conditions.

    • by roc97007 (608802)

      Blackberry's business was built around mobile e-mail. Their transition from pager devices to smartphones brought along with it their original NIH, vendor lock-in strategy. They never *got* smartphones as flexible devices using open protocols because that's not how their business started and they didn't move fast enough to embrace changing market conditions.

      I....'m not sure I agree. Granted, the dependence on BES does seem like a lock-in strategy. And maybe it is. But it was pretty cool having unfettered access to my company's intranet from anywhere I could get cell coverage. I have yet to see that on other smartphones. (Assuming an enterprise class, locked-down intranet.) The security wasn't in protocols or an app on the smartphone, it was built into the BES server. As long as you had competent admins, it just worked.

      I would submit it wasn't lack of in

      • by narcc (412956)

        Times have changed.

        That "Sent from by BlackBerry" at the bottom of an email was a sign of status. It said to the recipient "This guy is busy and important".

        The similar "Sent from my iPhone" message today reads like an apology.

        • by roc97007 (608802)

          > The similar "Sent from my iPhone" message today reads like an apology.

          :-)

          A: I’m gangster. I’m a straight up G, the hamster life is the life for me. STUPID AUTO CORRECT!!!

          B: Been spendin’ most of their lives in the hamster paradise.

          A: Don’t make fun of me

        • by roc97007 (608802)

          You know, you can change the "sent from my pretentious bling phone" to a different message.

          Mine says: "Stupidity should hurt".

          I'm not really popular at work.

      • by acoustix (123925)

        This.

        I'm a BES Admin and end user and it is an excellent platform. It still offers more features than ActiveSync ever will.

  • by mveloso (325617) on Monday September 30, 2013 @06:24PM (#44996319)

    When BlackBerry listened, they listened to the carriers, not to the end-users.

    "How did they get AT&T to allow [that]?"

    Exactly.

    BB was built for carriers - just like Windows is built for Enterprise customers. That's who their customers were. And apparently those customers were wrong. That's the problem when you listen to your customers - someone else might be talking to a totally different set of customers.

    • by CohibaVancouver (864662) on Monday September 30, 2013 @06:34PM (#44996381)
      ...but he was right. In North America, the *carriers* are the cell phone manufacturers' customers, not the end-users. In the USA, Samsung has something like six customers.

      A little understood fact is the iPhone's secret to success is Jobs managed to get AT&T on board.
      • backward thinking (Score:4, Informative)

        by slew (2918) on Monday September 30, 2013 @07:43PM (#44996891)

        ...but he was right. In North America, the *carriers* are the cell phone manufacturers' customers, not the end-users. In the USA, Samsung has something like six customers.

        When dealing with gatekeeper like this, you need to understand there are 2 directions, you can push products through the gatekeeper, and you help the end customer pull things through the gatekeeper. The iPhone is more of a pull-through product. Of course initially, BBry was push product, but its success created a pull-dynamic (employees kind of demanded it because their buddies in other companies had one and it was somewhat of a status symbol). I think somehow BBry forgot that lesson and decided to mostly focus their message on the corporate CIO gatekeepers (since it's easier to track from a business account salesperson bean-counter perspective) and tried to simply push their products through them taking for granted that it was the pull-side that really made them successful and they needed to foster that as well.

        A little understood fact is the iPhone's secret to success is Jobs managed to get AT&T on board.

        I don't know that it was little understood. Way back then, wired ran an interesting article [wired.com] on it. Here are some interesting excerpts...

        Apple was prepared to consider an exclusive arrangement to get that deal done. But Apple was also prepared to buy wireless minutes wholesale and become a de facto carrier itself... For Cingular, Apple's ambitions were both tantalizing and nerve-racking. A cozy relationship with the maker of the iPod would bring sex appeal to the company's brand. And some other carrier was sure to sign with Jobs if Cingular turned him down — Jobs made it clear that he would shop his idea to anyone who would listen.

        Sigman's team made a simple bet: The iPhone would result in a surge of data traffic that would more than make up for any revenue it lost on content deals.... It may appear that the carriers' nightmares have been realized, that the iPhone has given all the power to consumers, developers, and manufacturers, while turning wireless networks into dumb pipes. But by fostering more innovation, carriers' networks could get more valuable, not less. Consumers will spend more time on devices, and thus on networks, racking up bigger bills and generating more revenue for everyone.

  • The didn't release new products, plain and simple.

  • The IP will be sold off and that deep talent will find a more productive home. The good survive. The useless move to be chief executives elsewhere.
  • by Mr. Sketch (111112) <mister.sketch@gmai[ ]om ['l.c' in gap]> on Monday September 30, 2013 @06:47PM (#44996481)

    Blackberry could succeed on their name, if they tweaked their brand a little and adopt a more 'Samsung' approach. Their name is already synonymous with enterprise level email, service and solutions, so capitalize on that, just with a different platform.

    • 1. Create an enterprise hardened version of Android
    • 2. Integrate with their existing Blackberry Enterprise Server (and of course other email providers, but provide a good business case for using their services like uptime, security, no NSA snooping, etc
    • 3. Provide a compatibility layer/VM for existing Blackberry apps on their devices

    This would provide end users with a standard Android platform just with more security features (maybe fingerprint, retina scan, whatever, and market it for security conscious individuals), and it would provide enterprises with a trusted platform.

    Individuals will still get an Android platform with all those apps, and Businesses will get a platform that plugin into a standard Android ecosystem.

    Anyways, those are my thoughts about how they could still make it work

    BTW, Blackberry, if you're looking for a new CEO or VP-level manager to implement this solution, I'm available.

    • by schnell (163007)

      1. Create an enterprise hardened version of Android

      Samsung did this already. It's called Knox [samsung.com]. As most Android vendors have discovered, competing with Samsung is a losing proposition.

      3. Provide a compatibility layer/VM for existing Blackberry apps on their devices

      If that could easily be done, they would have done it for BB 10. And honestly, can you name one BlackBerry app worth having that doesn't exist on Android already? Ironically, BB did build Android compatibility into BB 10... but it apparently hasn't made the platform any more popular.

  • I was considering the Q10 (I like the keyboard) as my next device. BB had a good reputation about security, anfd not being a US company was definitely a pre, but several issues with the Indian and Saudi gouvernments had eroded that trust a bit. Then the links with the NSA came known. Combined with this: http://yro.slashdot.org/story/13/07/18/1249236/blackberry-10-sends-full-email-account-credentials-to-rim [slashdot.org] and I decided to stick with my Nokia E72 for the time being.

    That phone also tries to snoop your email

  • You simply have to be right.

  • by Dynamoo (527749) on Monday September 30, 2013 @06:51PM (#44996515) Homepage
    The critical thing that killed BlackBerry was the huge delays in getting anything done. As the article points out, they spent a whole year arguing about their BB10 devices while competitors were eating there lunch, and when they finally got to market it was TWO YEARS too late. They'd been in a dead end for years with no strategy to get out of it.. and when they finally did the smart thing and bought QNX it took *forever* to get a decent working product out.

    And if it wasn't late.. it wasn't finished properly. Like the Storm. And then the PlayBook was both late *and* not finished properly.

    Nokia found itself in the same dead end, but at least it had some sort of strategy when it jumped off the infamous "burning platform". I think that Apple is at risk of the same pitfalls.. they are a much more defensive, conservative company than they were six years ago. The only people who really seem to have a clue are Samsung, and they've got all the appeal of the Borg collective as far as I'm concerned..

  • the company I worked for in 2001 - 2005 trialled BES on Windows 2000 Server and Exchange $whatever, configured especially for BES.

    In that environment, BES blew goats. It constantly locked up, lost email, required reboots of the server, etc etc. The company *ran* back to GROUPWISE as a superior alternative to BES.

  • This might as well be how Blackberry, Nokia, and Palm blew it. And I'm probably leaving off a few companies.

    IMO it all comes down to arrogance about your own platform. In Nokia's case that was Symbian.

  • by realmolo (574068) on Monday September 30, 2013 @07:22PM (#44996749)

    When the iPhone was released, RIM should've *immediately* began creating a new operating system for their phones, and *paying* developers to make apps for it.

    Their problem, as the article alludes to, is that they got so used to people paying for the Blackberry *service*, that they couldn't imagine simply making money on the devices and taking a cut of the app market. I'm sure it seemed risky, and it would've been.

    But they had no choice, really. And now they're fucked. They deserved it, frankly. They had ALL the cards, and they blew it entirely. It's Netscape all over again, really.

  • They under estimated how desire to have a pretty product would end up over ruling entrench security.

  • by chr1st1anSoldier (2598085) on Monday September 30, 2013 @08:11PM (#44997087)

    It paints a picture of a company with deep engineering talent but hamstrung by arrogance, indecision, slowness to embrace change, and a lack of internal accountability.

    This honestly sounds like most companies that I have worked for. The one that really grinds my gears is the lack of internal accountability. I hate it when a mistake happens and fingers start pointing in every direction. Then the person it gets pinned on is the one poor sap that didn't CYA even though it was clearly not their fault. Or, if someone actually steps up to admit a mistake, corporate america views them as weak and unworthy of the company. I have never understood how people in business want to get lied to, they just don't want to know they are getting lied to.

  • by RubberDogBone (851604) on Monday September 30, 2013 @08:23PM (#44997211)

    The article describes some effort put forth to encourage the cell companies to stick with 3G, that 4G was a lark. See, that right there shows that RIM had NO IDEA what their customers were doing, who were, by that point, already betting billions on Wimax or LTE.

    You can't in any sort of right mind expect to go to a Verizon or ATT about to spend BILLIONS on a buildout and tell them your commodity phone -which doesn't need that super expensive network- is all they need. This is like telling somebody buying a fancy car that a little putt-putt motor is all they need. No. Stupid.

    If that kind of thinking represents RIM's general mindset, then they wrote their own epitaph years ago and only now are they finally realizing it. Or maybe they're in denial. I don't hear anybody saying "Wow, we screwed up!" only that the MARKET wasn't smart enough to choose the right phone. WTF.

    Look, Apple has long TOLD people what they wanted to buy and gotten away with it because Apple, love them or hate them, comes up with some innovative reasons to back up this idea that Apple knows best and we should all just be quiet and buy it. There's a reason for the Apple arrogance.

    At no point in RIM's history have they ever stood at that level where they could tell anyone what they should buy. They've never had that kind of appeal. Close, maybe. But it was years ago. Not now. Not even close. The problem is they lived in a feedback loop where they told themselves how important they were until they forgot to actually talk to anyone who wasn't working there.

    FWIW, I work for a Canadian company which has grown by buying up other companies much like RIM bought and flopped QNX. The very same problems have hit us, hard. Three or four platforms running in different directions, new hires needed all over and none to be had, piss-poor accounts that barely contribute but demand lots of attention for dead-end products, and we've bled talent like crazy only to replace them with college students and possibly illegals. These folks can't DO what's needed. They aren't fixing the backlogs. They just answer the phone when irate customers call up.

    I fear we're going to implode much like RIM has. The similarities are really spooky.

  • by sandbagger (654585) on Monday September 30, 2013 @08:39PM (#44997369)

    Doesn't anyone remember the Palm Treo? They also sat on their laurels and blew it, long before Blackberry. In fact, their unorganized notes was so bloody good, I have yet to find as good list creator since.

    Interestingly, the Playbook suffered the same critical failure as the Palm Folio: they forgot what business they were in. Their job was to make money. Instead, in both cases, some genius decided that the Plabook/Folio would exist to sell phones. The result was a crippled laptop.

    By the way, I use the Treo sounds on my iPhone. If anyone wants the audio files, contact me.

  • Cool, I got a new bluetooth keyboard, let me just pair it with my blackberry which also has bluetooth. Hmm, HID profile not recognized? Blackberry only supports serial port profile bluetooth keyboards? Where do I get one of those? Nowhere, wtf?
  • For me the writing was on the wall for RIM when they stopped selling themselves as a business tool, and started flogging pink phones to teenagers.

    I remember when Blackberry devices started showing up everywhere (and knew some RIM people at the time). They didn't sell because they were way cool. They sold because they did some things really, really well, and because companies felt that they were safe and secure.

    Arguably BlackBerry was way, way ahead of the game in terms of messaging and mobile e-mail.

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