Nothing can last for long; everything can stay on top for only a limited time. Thereafter, entropy sets in, leaving you with a mere fragment of memory reminding you of the time when you are on the top of the tower, enjoying the drunken exhilaration of power.
Such is the story of RIM’s (Research in Motion) BlackBerry, the once-leading mobile phone brand in the market. Just in 2007, RIM was dubbed as Canada’s most profitable company, a reputation which was cemented with the release of BlackBerry Bold in 2008. Yet just as fast as it rose to the top of the game, BlackBerry has come down a slippery slope, issuing brand new smartphone models that did not just stand a chance with other smartphones. With its alarmingly quick rise and fall, it has already relegated its position to Apple and Android-run smartphones as the frontrunners in the industry.
BlackBerry’s golden age
Just a few years ago BlackBerry has excited many customers, especially those in the corporate world (and, admittedly, there are business people who are still loyal to this moribund smartphone brand). It has managed to catch the imagination of the business world exactly because it is one of the pioneers in integrating office computing functionalities with the mobility offered by mobile phones. It has allowed corporate people to use email alongside SMS, it has integrated office suite (documents, presentations, and spreadsheets) with all other features, and has basically allowed utility of the latest innovations in the telecommunications industry, letting you use serviceable technology such as the RingCentral virtual office and business VoIP for your day-to-day operations.
Downward slope of market shares
But within just a few years, BlackBerry seems to have already seen its better days. In 2008, coinciding with its release of the BlackBerry Storm which received negative reviews, RIM reported an 18 percent decrease in stock price. RIM will not be able to emerge from this downward slope, eventually recording cataclysmic plummeting of stock prices, forcing the company to lay off up to 30 percent of its labor force in 2012.
With phenomenal speed, Apple’s iPhone has inched out BlackBerry as the world’s most desirable smartphone. Today, it has lost much of its market share to its fiercer competitor: Apple and Samsung.
Still hard-hitting in Southeast Asia
Of course, it is not all lost for BlackBerry. Though it has seen its market share plunging in North America, it has reported a decent sales performance in Southeast Asia. In fact, Indonesia has become its largest market in the region, while ranking as the number 2 phone in the Philippines and number 3 in Malaysia and Thailand. This seemingly good performance can be attributed to the character of the economy of Southeast Asian countries, where the population is highly polarized between the poor and the rich, and the only profitable option is to introduce smartphones at bargain prices. In fact, RIM is planning to sell at much lower price its older device inventory in these emerging economies.
BlackBerry’s fate is a lesson in mortality — that nothing is permanent. Even the top players of today would face its demise in the future: Apple would be eventually dislodged from its position as the number 1 smartphone producer in the world. The important thing is to continue to innovate to introduce something that can adapt to the ever-changing demands of the market.