Ten ways to bury a BlackBerry
31st Jan 2013 | 11:10
Running a tech firm? Don't do any of these
The launch has happened and the reviews are in, and you can sum them up in a word: decent.
The BlackBerry Z10, BlackBerry's new flagship, is "a decent all round phone" that suffers from a "lack of apps" and has "no major flaws". Five years ago that would have been enough, but today many are asking whether a good enough phone is good enough to save the BlackBerry platform. How did BlackBerry get here? By doing the following ten things for starters...
1. Say 'iPhone? What iPhone?' and whistle a happy song
RIM didn't see the iPhone coming and even when it was revealed RIM didn't think such a device was possible. The Z10 may finally be an iPhone-rivalling BlackBerry, but guys! Apple's about to ship its seventh generation!
2. Have two CEOs, just for a laugh
There are some circumstances when having two heads can be useful, such as when you're entering a beauty competition on the planet Tharg. Having two CEOs (as RIM did in 2011), however, might just be indicative of a wider problem. How are you going to make important product decisions if you can't even decide who's in charge?
3. Fight the wrong battle
Eventually, RIM realised that the iPhone was a threat. 'Let's kill the iPad!' they cried, like simpletons. The BlackBerry PlayBook was a tablet torpedo that, when launched, turned right around and holed RIM below the waterline.
4. Fight the right battle with the wrong weapons
'Let's fight the iPhone with this Rubbish-O-Fone!' RIM cried. Okay, it wasn't actually called that. But the first generation BlackBerry Storm probably should have been. You've heard of bringing a knife to a gun fight? This was like bringing a banana to a bazooka battle.
5. Hire U2 to make an awful advert that reminds everybody of how good their Apple advert was
Remember the ad with U2 in it, the exciting one with the good song that made you want to go and buy an expensive device? Yeah! That was for the iPod! U2's BlackBerry ad, on the other hand, featured the execrable I'll Go Crazy If I Don't Go Crazy Tonight, a song so unremarkable that even Bono can't remember how it goes.
6. Make a new OS, then don't ship it
Step 1: Tell everyone that you're about to release a brand new operating system that'll render all your old stuff redundant.
Step 2: Don't ship it for ages and ages and ages.
Step 3: Wonder why everyone's stopped buying your current products.
7. Have hellish, high-profile outages
New York, London, Paris, Munich, everybody's talking about - BlackBerry network outages! The brand took a massive battering as a result of major network problems in 2011 and again in 2012 - there's even a HowStuffWorks piece explaining the phenomenon.
8. Get product placement in riots
Where Apple products turn up in music videos and TV shows, BlackBerry devices ended up on the news when it emerged that they were the chosen phone of London's looters. You can't buy that kind of publicity, or pay to make it go away: BlackBerry's image went from business class to underclass.
9. Talk about licensing your new OS before you launch it
Two weeks before BB10 even launched, current CEO Thorstein Heins was talking to Die Welt about licensing the operating system and maybe selling off the hardware division too. That kind of talk isn't great for boosting confidence in a platform.
10. Make everybody laugh at you on the BBC
It's the morning of the launch. You're on the BBC. Why not make the internet laugh at your evasive answers instead of talk about your amazing new product? European MD Stephen Bates managed exactly that yesterday morning on BBC's breakfast news, when he said the word "excited" seven times in three minutes but couldn't answer the question of what went wrong for BlackBerry. BB execs: for future reference, this is your crib sheet.