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Where Have All The Blackberries Gone?

It looks like it’s the end of an era. Nearly ten years after the release of the first iPhone, Blackberry’s market share has dropped to 0.0%. Well, it’s actually 0.0481% for the 4th quarter of 2016, but that can be rounded to a startling zero percent. Blackberry, once a notable player within the cellphone industry, has all but vanished from the market.

What has happened to this company? One can remember a time where, around the mid 2000s, almost every working professional had a Blackberry. In fact, the companies products were so well renowned, that people affectionately referred to them as “Crackberries.” People constantly on the go cherished them for their full QUERTY keyboard and and email functionality.

So where did Blackberry’s market share go? It would appear that iOS and Android operating systems, through the rise in popularity of Apple iPhones and Samsung Galaxies, have formed what appears to be a duopoly; the two hold 99.6% of the cellphone market share. Most people looking to buy a cellphone today choose not to purchase a Blackberry; as such, the company’s consumer base looks to be a rapidly aging group. This could prove a larger marketing issue than it has in the past, as the company’s value continues to plummet. The fall of Blackberry has been long and drawn-out, even if it hasn’t been noticed by the general populace. Blackberry stock hit its record high of about $140 in 2008, but since then, its price has fallen to $7.35 (February 16th). Although Blackberry does produce handsets that run on other operating systems, such as Android, these products only accounted for around 400,000 product sales in the second quarter of 2016.

One can ask what the future holds for Blackberry. The company has handed off future production of their name-brand cellphones to the Chinese company TLC Communication.  Instead, Blackberry is moving away from the cellphone industry. Currently, the firm is looking into producing software and also self-driving vehicle research. For those curious about the developments within the cellphone industry, it will be captivating to see how the company turns out. It is possible that diversifying Blackberry’s portfolio of products could lead them out of a gulley, but it is just as likely that it destroy them completely. Perhaps, it would be better for a firm, like Microsoft or Apple, to buy them while trying to vertically integrate. The employees of Blackberry could almost certainly prove beneficial to any company that acquires them. As Apple continues to increase profitability by limiting their operating system to their own in-house products, the challenge of keeping up will prove to be too much for most companies, like it has been for Blackberry. Apple seems to have the luxury smartphone market cornered, while Android manufactures are able to sell units at all different price points. It is entirely possible that we will see a pure duopoly, or even a monopoly, inside the cellphone market in the not-too-distant future.



  1. I’ll comment after a few of your classmates have pitched in.

  2. childresss19 childresss19

    I would be curious to see when Blackberry fell out of the market, especially in regard to at what point they failed to keep up with competitors. Off the top of my head, I’m unaware of any Blackberry model that has the same capabilities as an iPhone in terms of touch control, and since almost all smartphones currently rely on that feature, it makes sense that their market share has dramatically dropped.

  3. Honestly, before this post I forgot Blackberry even existed in the market (though I guess I wasn’t that far from the truth). I wonder what it is in particular that did them in (inferior operating system, marketing strategy?) Did they have any market share overseas or was their primary base in the US? It’s a shame too, I was a big brick breaker fan too. I’d be interested to see if the trajectory that blackberry took once the iphones were released rivaled the same trajectory PDA’s took once blackberries were released.

  4. Jordan Krasner Jordan Krasner

    I think the reason BlackBerry has become such a non-factor in the cell phone marketing is that they failed to keep innovating their product. At first, BlackBerrys rose to popularity because of the innovation it offered to the cell phone market: a full keyboard and emails. But once the iPhone and other touch screens phone came out, they could do everything a BlackBerry could and more. BlackBerry never really kept pace in terms of offering all of the new types of features that iPhone has grown to do so besides older business people using them as legacy technology, they are virtually obsolete at this point.

    Without even taking a look at their financial position, I think the company is headed for bankruptcy at this point. They have clearly lost the cell phone battle and they face intense competition from firms with far more resources than them in the markets that you mentioned they might try to pivot into (software and self-driving cars). I also do not see a company like Apple or Facebook buying them at this point because what value would they really add. Those companies could poach BlackBerry’s workforce fairly easily if they wanted to and its not like BlackBerry has any groundbreaking technology that a Silicon Valley giant would want,

  5. aeschlimand19 aeschlimand19

    I’m curious where the numbers backing up Apple and Samsung holding 99.6% of the cellphone market share come from. Out of the domestic smartphone market share, it seems they hold about 44% and 28% respectively, so I imagine this would be lower in the overall cellphone market. On another note, I think that Blackberry just got stubborn and refused to innovate; they had immense success early on with their revolutionary design but relied on the same old model even when superior touchscreen technology came out.

    • Yes, curious market share data – good to point this out! China is the world’s largest cell phone market, and I don’t think the iPhone is currently in the top 3 there. If Apple is primarily a cell phone company (they may be more a music and app retailer), then this should be very worrisome.

  6. march zheng march zheng

    Wow, it gets nostalgic thinking about the days when they were big. It is crazy how acute a player must be to stay ahead of the game. I really enjoyed this article, and it was backed by really good diagrams. No doubt that their next moves into other industries will be the make it or break for the company’s future longevity. With their once dominating position wiped out, it is really all about survival at this point.

  7. Alex Niemann Alex Niemann

    Blackberry’s downfall seems to be largely due to the fact that their product simply fell behind the curve. While Apple entered the phone market with the iPhone, Samsung had been in the market producing non-smartphones for some time and they were able to adapt and maintain market share. In a world where touch screens and a simplistic interface are must haves for any phone, a small keypad just doesn’t have a place. I wonder if Blackberry never acquired the technology and know how to produce phones of iPhone/Android caliber or if they failed to see that what their competitors were doing would prove to be the future of the cell phone market.

  8. One strength of Blackberry was that it provided a secure environment, everything was encrypted and had to pass through their servers. That was very important in business (particularly financial institutions) and government. I assume (given that Blackberry is effectively gone) that others can provide a sufficiently secure environment – not something that ever mattered to me so I don’t really know.

  9. jonesm19 jonesm19

    It’s interesting to see how Blackberry’s market share completely evaporated over the last couple years. One of my friends actually still has a Blackberry, and a lot of the features seem to mimic that of an Android or iPhone. However, perhaps these changes came a little too late allowing these two other platforms to securely hold on to Blackberry’s lost market share.

  10. tuckerj17 tuckerj17

    It is interesting to take into account Blackberries’ financial/governmental uses, seeing as they provide high level officials with a means of communicating securely. That said, commercially one thing that Blackberry lacks is substantial marketing. Companies like Samsung and Apple spend enormous amounts on advertising, whereas I can’t recall ever having even seen a Blackberry commercial.

  11. kirschnerk18 kirschnerk18

    I think the best strategy for Blackberry to employ at this point is to dominate the business world. Companies used to give Blackberries to their employees because of all the advantages it had back in the early 2000s compared to other phones. Once the iPhone got to that level, companies started giving those out instead. I think there are two ways that Blackberry could get back ahead of Apple: speed and battery life. If they can improve their hardware enough to where it surpasses that of their competitors in these attributes, I think that will be very attractive to companies.

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