Can the BlackBerry survive?

A few short years ago, Research In Motion's device was the undisputed smartphone king. Now the company's latest earnings report is being called a 'train wreck.'

By Apr 2, 2012 5:24PM

The latest earnings report from Research In Motion (RIMM) (commonly known as RIM), the Canadian manufacturer of the BlackBerry smartphone, is nothing less than a "train wreck," says John Paczkowski at All Things D.

With more and more customers ditching their BlackBerries for Apple (AAPL) iPhones and Google (GOOG) Android-supported devices, RIM failed to meet sales expectations for the fifth-straight quarter, and officials are hinting that the once-dominant smartphone maker might put itself up for sale.

It's an astonishing fall for a company valued at $29.4 billion a year ago (it's now worth $7.3 billion), and that once made a product so prevalent and addictive that it spawned the neologism "crackberry," which became Merriam-Webster's 2006 word of the year.

Is the BlackBerry finished?

The BlackBerry is on the verge of extinction: RIM is in "complete disarray" and facing a "bleak future," says John Dvorak at MarketWatch. The BlackBerry catapulted to success by "being the most practical portable email reader you could get," but its "uniqueness was decimated by the iPhone in 2007." Email is now just one function of dozens on your average smartphone, and RIM was far too "sluggish to respond to the paradigm shift." Today, RIM has little choice but to sell itself. 

But people still love their BlackBerries: "Like fans of many iconic products, BlackBerry loyalists love the design of their phones," says Sarah Frier at Bloomberg. They appreciate the focus on "fast messaging features," and above all the "tactile pleasure of typing on a real keyboard." Many devotees use BlackBerries for business, where a touchscreen just isn't as important as speed, reliability, and familiarity. Don't forget, there are still 75 million people worldwide who use the BlackBerry — including President Obama.

BlackBerry has but one shot left: Everyone agrees that RIM has "precious little time to turn things around," says Ian Paul at PCWorld. And the "biggest asset" it has coming down the pipeline is the BlackBerry 10, which combines the BlackBerry's traditional software with a new operating system and interface. No one knows what the new phone will look like, but everyone is "curious to see if BlackBerry 10 will give" RIM a "much needed boost." If it "misses the mark, that could be the last shot RIM has at relevance."

Sources: All Things DMarketWatch, Bloomberg, PCWorld

More from The Week:

Apr 3, 2012 5:59AM
Trouble with my BB is that it will not interface with the popular Skype and Neflix, and last call they had no intention of solving the problem.  Good if BB10 is the answer.
Apr 3, 2012 9:59AM

Identity crisis - As a small business man the BB line works extemely well for me. What is missing is the social applications which what the majority of the world is integrating into their business life. The lack of netflix, skype, and other entertainment apps hurt RIM.


Security is something the public has decided is not a priority for mobility access.

Apr 3, 2012 3:33AM
I'm still hooked and they are cheaper to own. So all you I phone junkies phoney up the cash I think I will save mine
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