Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Extinction Events and Democracy - The Death of Blackberry

There is a saying in America, "Every dog has its day."  That idiom means everyone will at some time in their life have a moment of success.  That moment may be a second, a minute, perhaps a day, a week, several months or even years.  BlackBerry had its day.

In an article titled, "The Fatal Mistake That Doomed BlackBerry," writer Sam Gustin identifies a number of critical points in BlackBerry's history that my colleagues at the Center for The Future of Work would describe as crossroads.  Good decisions at the crossroads lead to success, bad decisions at the crossroads lead to "extinction events."  Here are a few identified by Gustin:
  1. BlackBerry failed to see the power shift from enterprises to consumers.  They focused on the enterprise until it was too late.  They thought decisions in the enterprise drove demand.
  2. BlackBerry failed to understand and embrace the "apps economy" that started and fueled an uncontrolled frenzy of innovation from developers and demand from consumers.  BlackBerry thought they dictated and controlled progress and innovation.
  3. BlackBerry failed to understand mobile phones could become more than voice and text communicators.  They missed the whole notion that mobile devices could be entertainment hubs for the masses.
  4. BlackBerry failed to realize that bigger screens trumped physical keyboards.  Consumers embracing their devices as entertainment hubs wanted to watch videos, play games and view maps on bigger screens.  
  5. BlackBerry considered providing secure email on a mobile phones the pinnacle of innovation, rather than just the start.  Apple and Android saw mobile phones as mobile computers that could support an unlimited number of software apps and functions.
I am struck by the amount of power and influence BlackBerry believed it controlled.  It seemed a kind of institutional arrogance.  The advent of the world wide web, wireless broadband and social media ensured a kind of democracy in technology.  The mobile world could and would no longer be controlled by a single company in Waterloo, but rather by the consumer.

Today, I still come across vendors who seem to believe they control the direction of enterprise mobility.  As soon as I observe this attitude, a vision of an extinction event fills my mind.  Vendors must innovate both in front of and in parallel with the the direction customers are heading.  They can no longer dictate and control the direction of the consumer.

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Kevin Benedict, Head Analyst for Social, Mobile, Analytics and Cloud (SMAC) Cognizant
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***Full Disclosure: These are my personal opinions. No company is silly enough to claim them. I am a mobility and SMAC analyst, consultant and writer. I work with and have worked with many of the companies mentioned in my articles.