I just finished reading this great article: Bloomberg Businessweek, The Rise and Fall of BlackBerry: An Oral History.
The article recounts how a once-dominant technology company of the past decade is no longer a relevant player. Blackberry's 1997 IPO to its 2008 stock market peak are highlighted.
After 2008, the iPhone, iPad, and Android OS systematically put Blackberry out of business. A series of anecdotes from former executives, journalists, and others recounts Blackberry's demise due to management missteps, hubris, and self-denial.
Microsoft, Are YOU Paying Attention? What's scary is how Blackberry's key mistakes closely parallel the same ones made by Microsoft and Steve Ballmer (which eventually cost him his job).
Here are key quotes from the Bloomberg Businessweek article compared to other quotes (from other sources) paralleling the ongoing Microsoft saga:
Pattern 1: Apple and the iPhone are neither a relevant mobile player nor are they a legitimate competitive threat.
(Blackberry) In June 2007, the first iPhone hits the stores. Far from recognizing the potential threat to BlackBerry’s dominance, Lazaridis and Balsillie (e.g., RIM's Senior Leaders) publicly belittle Apple’s device, criticizing its short battery life and weaker security.
(Blackberry) Chris Key (global account manager and carrier sales and relationship manager, 2001-09): "I remember being at a [customer] meeting and the CIO was carrying an iPhone. I found out that a lot of senior executives … were carrying iPhones. That was a big red flag for me. The attitude for most of the people in the senior leadership at BlackBerry was, “The BlackBerry solution is secure. It’ll lock down company data. It’ll allow the organization to maintain complete control over the business use of the device. IPhone is a music player and a consumer toy.”
(Microsoft and Steve Ballmer) “There’s no chance that the iPhone is going to get any significant market share. No chance. It’s a $500 subsidized item.”
Pattern 2: The Corporate / Enterprise Market is the only relevant market (which shields Blackberry from Apple's and Google Android's consumer penetration).
(Blackberry) Kevin Michaluk (founder of CrackBerry.com, a news site): BlackBerry was a darling of enterprise. If you had a BlackBerry you were an important person, as at that time a lot of people didn’t have a smartphone. It was almost a status symbol within the company. It was the most intuitive communication device. With that blinking red light, it had that addictive quality.
(Blackberry) Gillenwater: If BlackBerry was going to be serious about consumers, they needed to make a fundamental shift in the way products were thought about, created, iterated, marketed, and sold. This was done but never to the extent necessary. It was always a partial effort. There was a period of time when this could have been corrected, but when it became apparent that HQ and senior leadership were not addressing systemic issues, people like myself left.
(Microsoft and Steve Ballmer) “$500, fully subsidized, with a plan! That is the most expensive phone in the world and it doesn’t appeal to business customers, because it doesn’t have a keyboard, which makes it not a very good email machine.”
Microsoft Better Find Its Next CEO Fast
Don't get me started on how both Blackberry and Microsoft / Steve Ballmer missed the tablet market and underestimated Apple's and Google Android's dominance. Remember, the Blackberry Playbook? It's a distant memory because nobody wanted it.
Tony Faustino is a marketing and corporate strategist. He writes about how The Internet reinvents marketing strategy for organizations and individuals in his marketing strategy blog, Social Media ReInvention. Follow his tweets @tonyfaustino or circle him on Google+.