I am an ardent fan of BlackBerry and its latest offerings, based on BlackBerry OS 10, were some of the easiest to use (and smartest) of the current batch of smartphones. Even before the recent job cuts and the pending acquisition, BlackBerry have had a tough ride the past few years. Its older OS, BB7, was way overdue for a replacement and OS 10 took three years too long to come to market. BlackBerry experienced a number of system failures that left its faithfully out of touch for far too long, and to compound that, BlackBerry carried on as if it was business as usual.
Disastrous communication, despite technical issues that can and do happen, left many looking for alternatives. The key thing that got trampled here was trust. Without trust there is no relationship. BlackBerry had built up a fanatical relationship between its “crackberry” addicts and their BlackBerrys. Slow poor hardware releases, coupled with slow late OS releases, let many down and the trust leaked away. With the failure to roll out BBM for Android and iOS as promised, BlackBerry have finally blown it for me.
It makes no logical sense that 1-million “unauthorised” users can cause such technical difficulties for its so-called servers that they had to pull the global release. WhatsApp has hundreds of millions of users, so do many other competitors. If BlackBerry can’t handle 1-million right now, how in heaven’s name can we trust them to handle the platform going forward? Will my real BlackBerry BBM suffer, I asked?
There is no way BlackBerry could not have seen this coming. The official BlackBerry blog went into full on PR spin, blaming the unauthorised users for the failure of the whole roll out. This is not possible, and may be the final straw after a string of broken promises.
Emerging markets had saved the day for BlackBerry. The original and primary markets had long lost faith and moved onto Apple and Android, and for many the change was revelatory: better hardware, more capable operating systems, and apps that did absolutely everything that BlackBerry did and then some. There were games that worked spectacularly, messaging that talked to everybody. The old BlackBerry faithful had moved away.
BB10: the new hope
We have to give credit where credit is due. BlackBerry finally saw the inevitable and embarked on a dramatic change, not only in hardware and software but in philosophy. Met with the new slick, open and honest BlackBerry under CEO Thorsten Heins, some faithful still hung on. The new OS, BB 10, coupled to the new fully touch screen Z10 was very promising, the new App World had the basics and tons more apps were promised. The faithful again gave BlackBerry the benefit of the doubt.
BlackBerry then followed up with the Q10 and Q5 — both great devices, but they did not sell in any huge quantity. The simple reason? People wanted a new BlackBerry, one that competed with all the new full touchscreen Apple and Android phones out there, not with its old legacy keyboard BlackBerries with a new spin. The second key issue is they were expensive, so those that kept BlackBerry alive in emerging markets could not afford them, and those in the main first world markets were far to spoilt for choice with faster, sleeker, and technically more capable devices, along with all the apps they could want, from pretty much everybody else
One last chance
For many users, BlackBerry has had its final chance. Around the world people eagerly checked their Androids and iPhones in anticipation of the launch of BBM, and it just did not happen. BlackBerry had failed again. This time it may well be one failure too far. I personally love the Z10 and Q10. I am currently testing the new BB OS 10.2 operating system upgrade, coming first on the new Z30. BB 10.2 is a huge upgrade, and has fantastic features. Many have really supported BlackBerry in the past, and hoped they would get its act together.
It now appears that the rot at BlackBerry has gone to the core. A mere one million users have brought them down. If BlackBerry can’t handle this, then there is no way they can handle the anticipated rush of new BBM users from Android and iOS.
I predicted that the uptake of BBM would be huge, tens of millions would sign up, even if just for nostalgia’s sake. The BBM platform would scream over 100-million users in little over a week from release, in my opinion. The problem is that it is apparent that BlackBerry obviously can’t handle this, and all the promises they have made are not worth the blogs they have posted them on.
This is a truly sad reality, the smartphone world takes no prisoners, and however undeserving, BlackBerry may have made its last promise.