We so wanted Research In Motion (RIM) to do well. It is a Canadian success story that changed the path of “cellphones” forever, with the whole keypad thing that mere mortals could use, until Apple, Google and Microsoft ate BlackBerry for lunch
For those of us who remember the earliest days of the ‘cellphone’ like the Motorola DynaTAC 8000X brick, the sheer freedom of making a cellular phone call was of itself, amazing. Real Estate agents, of course, flocked to the new technology, liberating many of them from the “car phone” that wasn’t much more evolved that a CB Radio, but would put you back a thou a month, not counting service. You would hunt about for a signal then try to dial and get somewhere, amazing your friends and family with your technology-forward attitude. Then came the flip phones, like the Motorola StarTAC that had a little-known feature: You could send a short text message over it to other phones that supported Short Message Service (SMS), instead of voice-calling to say you’d be late for dinner.
About that time the BlackBerry was the ne plus ultra. You could not only make calls on it and text on it with something like a real keyboard, but you could also check your mail and send replies too!
Sure it was cool and secure, (so we thought, thanks NSA!) but then cellphones became commodities and manufacturers packed more features and doodads into phones culminating with the superphones we have now that have all but supplanted the home computer as the gadget of choice.
Monday, BlackBerry issued an open letter to the media to calm customers and partners. They’re trying to pull a “The reports of my death are greatly exaggerated.” stunt from the Mark Twain Book Of Corporate Communication.
They have not succeeded. Indeed, the Market (insert Choir of Angels voices here) has reacted like they’re received a personalized, gift-boxed turd. BlackBerry Messenger (BBM) is set to go public with a cross-platform version for Android and iPhone that will bring BBM to others, aside from the nine guys in Waterloo, ON who still have a BlackBerry.
If past history is any guide, the 6 million people who have pre-registered for BBM on the other platforms will install it, use it twice, then ignore it, choosing instead to download the latest app craze “NippleSifter” that scours the entire Internet for all the newest nipple pictures of celebrities, tying your geolocation to where the pic was taken so you can determine exactly how many miles or kilometers your are from where a paparazzi saw and photographed Jennifer Anniston’s left nipple in 2003, then post it to your Tumblr, Instagram and Facebook accounts simultaneously. Plus you’ll get a free small latte from the nearest Starbucks. Whoo Hoo! I digress.
The stock price, once in the zillions of dollars for a chance to actually look at and touch a share, is now not much more than horse tranquilizer on the (insert Choir of Angeles voices again) Market. Today BlackBerry said it would sell unlocked smartphones directly to US consumers, as the big cellcos view their offerings as something on par with giving away a free regular carwash with every purchase of a BlackBerry handset.
Sad to say, but BlackBerry is on life support, waiting for the that last gasp where the DNR order can kick in.