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BlackBerry: Five key moments in its decline

BlackBerry: Five key moments in its decline

With a $1 billion loss, the firing of over 4,500 staff and a company sale looming, the end is surely nigh for BlackBerry.

As the weekend got started, rumblings about catastrophic quarterly figures were finally confirmed by CEO Thorsten Heins.

Stock plummeted by 17% and trading was even suspended in the US as investors took on board the terrible news.

Despite Heins’ management speak–heavy remarks about ‘refocusing’ and being ‘squarely on target’ to retake its enterprise crown, BlackBerry is surely doomed.

Here are five key moments that led to the decline of this once dominant mobile player.

1 The dismissal of the iPhone

iphone large new

The beginning of the end came in January 2007.

Not just with Steve Jobs’ unveiling of the iPhone, but BlackBerry’s flat-out refusal to believe that the device, and Apple, represented any kind of threat.

Then joint CEOs Jim Balsillie and Mike Lazaridis led an orchestrated campaign to bash the iPhone.

In November 2007, as the iPhone came to the UK, Balsillie said: “As nice as the Apple iPhone is, it poses a real challenge to its users.

“Try typing a web key on a touchscreen on an Apple iPhone, that's a real challenge.”

Less than a year later, the full touchscreen BlackBerry Storm hit shelves, its clumsy ‘SurePress’ display slated for being awkward and slower than the iPhone.

2 ‘Amateur hour is over’: PlayBook flops

Blackberry Playbook

Massively delayed, the BlackBerry PlayBook was the company’s answer to Apple’s all-conquering iPad.

Marketed with the slogan ‘Amateur hour is over’, it lacked native email and calendar clients, with awkward bridge software used to hook-up BlackBerry phones.

Despite updates bringing these features to the slate, the dominance of the iPad and growing array of budget Android alternatives ensured the PlayBook flopped.

The decision not to update it to BB10 earlier this year effectively killed the device.

3 BB10 hits the skids

Blackberry 10 Family

BB10 is rightly lauded as a great OS. But it was only released in January 2013, years after it was promised and far too late to compete properly with iOS, Android and even Windows Phone.

Thorsten Heins claimed that the delay was down to coders being ‘overwhelmed by integration efforts’ and that he wanted to the OS to ship in perfect form.

He made good, as the OS is great. But the hold-up ensured many continued to see BlackBerry as a Johnny Come Lately on the smartphone scene.

4‘Tablets themselves are not a good business model’

Sony S1 and S2 Android tablets

Heins took on some of his predecessors’ gaffe-prone tendencies, when, defending the decision not to update the PlayBook to BB10, he suggested tablets were not the future.

“In five years I don't think there'll be a reason to have a tablet anymore. Maybe a big screen in your workspace, but not a tablet as such.

“Tablets themselves are not a good business model,” he told Bloomberg.

Apple’s last quarterly iPad sales? 14.6 million.

5‘Seeking strategic alternatives’

Thorsten Heins BlackBerry CEO

Before the current tale of billion dollar losses and staff cuts, BlackBerry finally signalled the end when it admitted in August it was ‘seeking strategic alternatives’ and putting the business up for sale.

From a position of dominance ten years ago, the company now finds itself down on its luck and unable to compete at the top level.

Heins bemoaned US networks’ unwillingness to push its products, but demand for iOS and Android means users no longer see BlackBerry as a viable option.

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