When the research and development firm Research in Motion (RIM) released its first handheld mobile devices, called BlackBerries, they were revolutionary. Back then, in 1999, and into the 2000s, RIM was on the cutting edge of wireless technology, influencing the tech, business and political communities. RIM, later renamed BlackBerry in an attempt to revive some of their fading luster, arguably changed the way that people communicate with one another. No longer was email available only while in front of a computer, and thanks to the SMS, no longer was it the preferred text communication method. Despite early success and influence, though, today BlackBerry seems to be shriveling.
5 The Federal Government Kept BlackBerry Alive
Without the United States government, the BlackBerry brand would likely have folded years ago. This is not due to any sort of direct subsidy or bail out: BlackBerries are designed and manufactured by a Canadian company. Rather it is because the US government was an early and ardent adapter of the BlackBerry brand of wireless devices, and soon became its largest and most reliable customer. As often happens with the federal government, the reliance on BlackBerries was soon deeply ingrained into the way Washington worked. The secure yet largely antiquated operating systems of BlackBerry devices remain popular with federal employees, but its dominance is rapidly crumbling thanks to the ascendance of the iPhone and Android platforms.
4 BlackBerry Met With Facebook to Seek a Buyer
In the past few weeks and months, executives at BlackBerry have apparently been courting many potential suitors, but none so well known as Facebook. Representatives from the two companies apparently met to discuss a buyout of the aging hardware company by the still-vital social media giant. Nothing came of the talks, which further indicates how far BlackBerry has slid from grace: Facebook is known to be looking for a mobile platform that could free it from the influence of Apple and Google devices, yet they still passed on a deal with BlackBerry.
3 BlackBerry’s Plan to Go Private Just Fell Apart, CEO is Out
In what had seemed to be the best shot the ailing tech giant had to remain viable, BlackBerry had planned to end its run as a publicly traded company, returning to the private business world. But the prospective buyer, Fairfax Financial Holdings Ltd., has ended their pursuit of the company. Fairfax was considering a buyout of BlackBerry amounting to some $4.7 billion, which would have valued the share price at around $9. In the wake of the deal’s failure, CEO Thorsten Heins is leaving the company, and an interim head will step in.
2 BlackBerry’s Stock Prices Are Plummeting
On the news of the failure to make a deal to go private, the share value of the public company took a nosedive. Letting go a large percentage of its workforce in September didn’t help either. Stocks of BlackBerry/RIM sold for more than $80 a share as recently as late 2009. The past year has seen highs just under $20. Today, BlackBerry endured a precipitous 15% drop, with its value cratering out below six dollars per share. With mounting debt looming and no buyers in sight, things will likely get worse, not better.
1 BlackBerry Simply Isn’t Cool
Perhaps the largest hurdle RIM/BlackBerry never managed to clear in the past decade and a half was the same obstacle looming before so many parents as well: neither the company nor its products were ever perceived as cool. Young people cleave to their iPhones and Droids and, to a lesser extent, even Samsung and Nokia products. But BlackBerries were always the devices of the adult businessperson or government worker. Without getting young folks committed to the company and its offerings, BlackBerry could never secure a reliable fan base that would remain loyal customers in the long-term. Thus, as iPhones and Droids spread across the globe, BlackBerries seemed destined for a historical footnote.