BlackBerry, once the global leader in smartphone technology, has put itself up for sale after years of falling sales and failed revamps.
Once seen as so habit-forming its users dubbed it the “CrackBerry”, Blackberry has suffered a calamitous decline as rivals revolutionised the business it did so much to start. On Monday the company previously known as Research in Motion (RIM) announced it had decided to “explore strategic alternatives”. Buyers are being sought, though the company could also go private or be broken up. Few analysts expect a turnaround.
BlackBerry launched its latest operating system, BlackBerry 10, and three new devices this year. They got positive reviews. But, says Carolina Milanesi, analyst at Gartner, it was too little and way too late. “They have suffered a fate a lot of big guys suffer from. They were the first to market, they created the smartphone as we know it. They just didn’t see what was coming next,” she said.
“People can choose what device they want for work these days, and they don’t want BlackBerry. Brand is important, cool factor is important, and BlackBerry lost out on that. But even that’s not enough these days,” she said. “You need the eco-system, you need to offer the same experience on different devices.”
Smartphones these days are more about music, photos and video than they are about email. BlackBerry for too long relied on its business customers to keep it in the game, said Milanesi. “But these days you don’t want to be boring in business.”