Those who shout the loudest often have the least to say.
I feel this statement to be true on frequent occasions; most recently when one of our writers penned an opinion piece on the end of his love affair with BlackBerry. Jacob Serebrin’s article, Falling Out of Love with Blackberry, tells the tale of a man once mightly impressed with the Canadian brand’s smartphones, only to realize that today, better options for consumers at exist. Haters are shouting loud and clear at him from beneath their bridges.
Serebrin’s is a familiar story to me; I paddled my boat down a similar river to his. Indeed, in my prime, I was a full-blown BlackBerry patriot. I had friends who worked there (they’ve all since been laid off); I pre-ordered and read every word of Rod McQueen’s Blackberry: The Inside Story of Research In Motion; and in general I acted as one of those organically made brand ambassadors that companies wish they could create out of thin air.
The first “smartphone” I ever got my hands on was a BlackBerry Pearl. Glorified feature phone though it was, I decided, at the time, that it was just about the coolest thing ever. The first smartphone I bought was a Torch. After switching to an iPhone 4, I dabbled with a Nokia Lumia briefly before settling on a Z10, which I used for a year and a half.
Currently, I own an iPhone 6 Plus. And I can say, definitively, that I will never again purchase a mobile device from BlackBerry.
Serebrin pointed out in his op-ed that BlackBerry failed “to position its phones as consumer products, rather than serious tools for business,” which is true. From the moment the iPhone came out in 2007 until last year, BlackBerry was caught in an awkward in-between—trying, simultaneously, to be the hip consumer brand and the stoic master of enterprise security. Consequently, BlackBerry succeeded in neither area.
Now, under CEO John Chen, BlackBerry is pursuing, albeit half-heartedly, the enterprise side of things (as it should, in my opinion). The other ship sailed a long time ago, and Chen knows this.
See, here’s the thing: for consumers, BlackBerry sucks. It just does. Period. So get over it.
When fervently loyal nutjobs crawl out of the woodwork to troll articles like Serebrin’s, they can never make points that actually make BlackBerry appealing to the modern consumer—everything is skewed toward enterprise appeal. And if I were an enterprise, I’d probably consider BlackBerry’s products. Really, I would. But as a consumer? Hell no.
There’s a reason BlackBerry owns less than 1% of the global marketshare.
There’s a reason BlackBerry’s market valuation shrunk by more than 90% in just a few years.
I also wonder: where were these blindly patriotic defenders when I owned my Torch and Z10? In a world of iPhones and Androids, nobody appeared out of the blue to insult Apple and Google lovers and make me feel good about the smartphone I was using. Instead, I consistently felt like the outcast, unable to use the latest apps everyone talked about—unable to feel like, at times, that what I was using was even a smartphone, but rather a relic of the past.
These days, I feel like there’s “smartphone” in absolute terms and then theres “smartphone” in relative terms. And relative to the latest and greatest from Apple and Samsung, the Passport just doesn’t feel like a brand new, high-end smartphone. It feels like a slightly outdated but still fully functioning device that someone other than myself would use, maybe because they had to—sound like an enterprise situation to you? It does to me. It’s the energy BlackBerry radiates under Chen; it’s the DNA BlackBerry was born from; and it’s something the loyalists need to accept.
When we say BlackBerry is over, we don’t mean as a company. We just mean as a consumer brand. (And, really, if we think about it, BlackBerry never was.) There’s no sex appeal. The app ecosystem is abysmal and not at all oriented toward regular users. IT departments love BlackBerrys for all the reasons consumers don’t.
I’m an edcuated consumer. I write about technology for a living. I’ve tried every smartphone out there, and I’ve used multiple BlackBerrys as my primary mobile device for years. I’ve been following BlackBerry closely for more than half a decade. No one can say I haven’t given the company’s products a fair shake. And those products? Yeah, they suck. They really do. Eventually you’ll agree, and when you do, I won’t even say “I told you so.” Because I was where you once were—I cared enough about BlackBerry to defend it, to justify my ownership of its products, to believe in its future.
Now, just like Serebrin, I couldn’t care less.
Enjoy BlackBerry, Enterprise. Sincerely, Consumer.