September 26, 2020

By LAURIE SNELL

The “CrackBerry” habit is finally out of everyone’s system, and the local economy is really feeling the withdrawal.

At one time, having a BlackBerry provided consumers with an urgent and addictive sense of global connectedness. Having the world at their fingertips at any moment introduced the now irrelevant nickname, “CrackBerry.” But the market has expanded greatly over the years, with Apple, Samsung and Sony surpassing the former giant.

Rebranding the Waterloo-based company from Research In Motion to their popular smartphone name, Blackberry, was a feeble attempt to heighten their business profile this past January. The name change and release of the model 10 have also done nothing to get back in business consumers’ good graces.

The release of the RIM 850/950 smartphone in 1999 was directed at the business sector, and with rapid technological advancements, professionals became increasingly captivated by the ease and accessibility of the data device. Emails, phone calls, a web browser and text messaging with a handy keypad established BlackBerry as a dominant force in the mobile marketplace.

Consumers were initially hooked, but now, with every BlackBerry model released, the company’s ego takes a hit because the device does not satisfy the market’s constant craving for technological innovation. These features, that once defined the business, are now mandatory for all phones in this age of social media and interconnectedness, causing the Waterloo-based company to lose their upper hand.

By focusing on improving touchscreens, introducing applications and keeping up with current trends rather than enhancing and embracing the core business elements, the time for renaming could not have been better. BlackBerry’s research is no longer in motion, it just keeps the products average at best. Current products are made to appeal to anyone, rather than the once-dedicated professionals who helped financially sustain the corporation for well over a decade.

Rogers – one of the first mobile carriers to back Research In Motion in its early years – initally announced they would not carry the newest model, the BlackBerry Z30. The Z30 is expected to be the most expensive touchscreen phone on the market when it is released this week. However, executives at Rogers changed their mind after receiving flak from consumers, and will now sell the phone.

However, this type of publicity, along with the announcement of 4,500 layoffs and steadily declining sales figures, is not what Blackberry needs.

When a company documents large quarterly losses, PlayBook launch failures, significant layoffs and plummeting stocks, it is time to throw in the towel. Instead, BlackBerry is introducing one of the most expensive touchscreens as their last legacy before the inevitable pitfall.