Linked by Howard Fosdick on Mon 30th Sep 2013 18:26 UTC
In the News So how did Blackberry become a bit player in the smartphone market it invented? Canada's Globe and Mail offers an extensive look in their article Inside the Fall of Blackberry.

According to one insider quoted in the article, the problem wasn't that the staff stopped listening to customers. It was that they never listened to them. The company simply believed that they knew better what their customers needed.

Apple has wildly succeeded by being "out front" of expressed customer needs. But few tech companies hit paydirt when following this hubristic concept. Just look at the "innovative" user interfaces customers haven't asked for and have resisted over the past few years.
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Comment by lucas_maximus
by lucas_maximus on Mon 30th Sep 2013 18:45 UTC
lucas_maximus
Member since:
2009-08-18

I skipped through it, there was no way I have time to read it all. The start of the article seems to highlight internal politics as real problem, which is the real productivity killer of any large organisation.

Reply Score: 5

v RE: Comment by lucas_maximus
by jared_wilkes on Mon 30th Sep 2013 18:48 UTC in reply to "Comment by lucas_maximus"
RE[2]: Comment by lucas_maximus
by Symgeosis on Mon 30th Sep 2013 18:57 UTC in reply to "RE: Comment by lucas_maximus"
Symgeosis Member since:
2005-09-13

You should try re-reading the blurb. He didn't blame Apple. He specified that they took a similar approach to Apple but failed because they lacked Apple's foresight.

Reply Score: 3

lucas_maximus Member since:
2009-08-18

posted by Howard Fosdick on Mon 30th Sep 2013 18:26 CET

Reply Score: 3

RE[4]: Comment by lucas_maximus
by Symgeosis on Mon 30th Sep 2013 19:06 UTC in reply to "RE[3]: Comment by lucas_maximus"
Symgeosis Member since:
2005-09-13

Thanks for mentioning that again. While I appreciate the clarification and it's a valid point, it's irrelevant specifically to my point that he misinterpreted the statement.

Reply Score: 2

RE[4]: Comment by lucas_maximus
by galvanash on Tue 1st Oct 2013 00:43 UTC in reply to "RE[3]: Comment by lucas_maximus"
galvanash Member since:
2006-01-25

Apple doesn't need to be mentioned, period.


You want someone to write a story about the failure of a company, whose failure was fundamentally rooted on the introduction of a single product, but you can't mention the company that created said product? How can you talk about the failure (or success) of any mobile phone company in the last 5 years without mentioning Apple?

That is the most ridiculous thing I have ever heard. Its like having to describe the fall of Imperial Japan without mentioning the United States...

Yes, I know he doesn't "blame Apple for BB's failure" but the bizarre need to bring Apple into it and to nudge at Apple designing without customer input and associating it with BB's failure is absolutely a needless, pathetic attempt at trashing Apple for no reason whatsoever.)


This is the quote you are offended by:

Apple has wildly succeeded by being "out front" of expressed customer needs. But few tech companies hit paydirt when following this hubristic concept.


That is negative? WTF is wrong with you?????

ps. I mentioned the fall of Imperial Japan in WWII and did not use a Godwin. Do I get extra points?

Edited 2013-10-01 00:49 UTC

Reply Score: 13

RE[5]: Comment by lucas_maximus
by kwan_e on Tue 1st Oct 2013 08:12 UTC in reply to "RE[4]: Comment by lucas_maximus"
kwan_e Member since:
2007-02-18

I was going to mod you up, but apparently there's a limit on upvotes now.

Reply Score: 2

jared_wilkes Member since:
2011-04-25

If Apple was mentioned in the context of killing Blackberry, that would be appropriate. It was not.

You're highly selective with your quoting. This is the statement that is nonsense:

But few tech companies hit paydirt when following this hubristic concept.


The implication is not that Apple knows what it is doing and is successful at it for a reason. Rather, Apple pursues a strategy that should fail but they get lucky.

Reply Score: 1

RE[6]: Comment by lucas_maximus
by WereCatf on Tue 1st Oct 2013 15:26 UTC in reply to "RE[5]: Comment by lucas_maximus"
WereCatf Member since:
2006-02-15

The implication is not that Apple knows what it is doing and is successful at it for a reason. Rather, Apple pursues a strategy that should fail but they get lucky.


Are you sure you're just not reading something to the sentence that isn't there? The way I read it is simply that such a concept is unlikely to succeed, but Apple has managed to do that -- no implication of whether it was due to luck or knowledge, either way.

Reply Score: 4

RE[6]: Comment by lucas_maximus
by galvanash on Tue 1st Oct 2013 21:25 UTC in reply to "RE[5]: Comment by lucas_maximus"
galvanash Member since:
2006-01-25

You're highly selective with your quoting. This is the statement that is nonsense:

"But few tech companies hit paydirt when following this hubristic concept.
"

My quote included your quote... Who is being selective?

Reply Score: 4

RE[2]: Comment by lucas_maximus
by lucas_maximus on Mon 30th Sep 2013 18:57 UTC in reply to "RE: Comment by lucas_maximus"
lucas_maximus Member since:
2009-08-18

Thom didn't write the article.

http://www.osnews.com/permalink?573635

Edited 2013-09-30 19:00 UTC

Reply Score: 3

RE: Comment by lucas_maximus
by Kochise on Mon 30th Sep 2013 18:56 UTC in reply to "Comment by lucas_maximus"
Kochise Member since:
2006-03-03

I skipped through it, there was no way I have time to read it all. The start of the article seems to highlight internal politics as real problem, which is the real productivity killer of any large organisation.

Can be nicely reworded for another company :

"According to one insider quoted in the article, the problem wasn't that the (Nokia's) staff stopped listening to customers. It was that they (Stephen Elop) never listened to them. The company simply believed that they knew better (Windows Phone) what their customers needed (Symbian)"

Period. Same history, same mistake, same fate... oops, one got bought by Microsoft.

Kochise

Edited 2013-09-30 18:57 UTC

Reply Score: 4

RE[2]: Comment by lucas_maximus
by lucas_maximus on Mon 30th Sep 2013 18:58 UTC in reply to "RE: Comment by lucas_maximus"
lucas_maximus Member since:
2009-08-18

FFS.

You just did Godwin'd it. But instead of mentioning the Nazis you mention Microsoft instead.

Reply Score: 3

RE[3]: Comment by lucas_maximus
by Kochise on Mon 30th Sep 2013 19:03 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: Comment by lucas_maximus"
Kochise Member since:
2006-03-03

That's your interpretation, but you ought to quit your Godwin fetish...

Kochise

Reply Score: 3

lucas_maximus Member since:
2009-08-18

That's your interpretation,


Well who's other interpretation would it be exactly?

but you ought to quit your Godwin fetish...


Stating the facts of what you just did is not a fetish, and even if it was it did not invalidate my interpretation.

Edited 2013-09-30 19:32 UTC

Reply Score: 1

henderson101 Member since:
2006-05-30

As I understand it, Godwin's "law" revolves around the Second World war and the Third Reich/Hitler/Nazi's. This has nothing to do with that premise. So I would put it to you that it should be "Luke Robbin's law"...

"Any technical discussion on the merits of an operating system technology will cite either Microsoft or Apple in a negative light to support the argument that the subject is superior".

There you go. "Infamy, infamy, they've all got it in for me."

Reply Score: 3

RE[6]: Comment by lucas_maximus
by WereCatf on Tue 1st Oct 2013 14:28 UTC in reply to "RE[5]: Comment by lucas_maximus"
WereCatf Member since:
2006-02-15

As I understand it, Godwin's "law" revolves around the Second World war and the Third Reich/Hitler/Nazi's. This has nothing to do with that premise.


Indeed, Godwin's law is very specifically all about a comparison to Hitler or Nazis coming up in an online discussion. Lucas_maximus's claim that comparison to Microsoft invokes Godwin's law is simply incorrect.

Reply Score: 3

RE[7]: Comment by lucas_maximus
by MOS6510 on Tue 1st Oct 2013 15:59 UTC in reply to "RE[6]: Comment by lucas_maximus"
MOS6510 Member since:
2011-05-12

Then it should be his own law.

In any tech discussion a comparison with Microsoft or Apple will happen and it has the same effect as the Nazi's.

Reply Score: 4

RE: Comment by lucas_maximus
by acobar on Mon 30th Sep 2013 19:45 UTC in reply to "Comment by lucas_maximus"
acobar Member since:
2005-11-15

You should keep reading. It was not politics that made RIM collapse, it was its failure to see how the competition would evolve and to be "too few, too bug, too late".

The rest is the same movie we already saw hundreds of times when things start to go very wrong: put blame on others and position himself like you could save the company but others did not allow.

Reply Score: 5

RE[2]: Comment by lucas_maximus
by lucas_maximus on Mon 30th Sep 2013 20:10 UTC in reply to "RE: Comment by lucas_maximus"
lucas_maximus Member since:
2009-08-18

Even on the later pages there was plenty of mentions of "this person didn't support this".

While I did a quite skim through, I have seen the story first hand in other orgs.

Reply Score: 3

RE[3]: Comment by lucas_maximus
by acobar on Mon 30th Sep 2013 21:19 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: Comment by lucas_maximus"
acobar Member since:
2005-11-15

From the article:

From page 2, iPhone launch:

Mike Lazaridis was at home on his treadmill and watching television when he first saw the Apple iPhone in early 2007. There were a few things he didn’t understand about the product. So, that summer, he pried one open to look inside and was shocked. It was like Apple had stuffed a Mac computer into a cellphone, he thought.


On page 3, Storm launch:
The product was months late, hitting the market just before U.S. Thanksgiving in 2008. Many customers hated it. The touchscreen, RIM’s first, was awkward to manipulate. The product ran on a single processor and was slow and buggy.


From page 5:
Meanwhile, RIM’s lack of an advanced smartphone meant that it continued to bleed market share to Apple and Android, especially in the United States.


From page 6:
“Buying QNX was the right play ultimately,” said Mr. Spence. “But we didn’t make the turn fast enough. Everyone underestimated the complexity” involved in building the new system.


Mr. Balsillie was concerned that Google had commoditized the smartphone market by making its Android operating system available for free to any handset maker. By 2011, wireless carriers were warning him that they would be ordering fewer BlackBerry products unless he dropped his prices to match rival manufacturers.


From page 8:
Finally, close to six years after Apple unveiled the iPhone, the long-awaited BlackBerry 10 made its debut at a glitzy launch event in January


For those that want to get a grasp of the problems, read on the last page:
"AN INTERVIEW WITH CEO THORSTEN HEINS"

Again, their problems were most associated on to present too few "killer" features, to be too bug and too late on a market that overturned itself on very few years.

Let also not forget what really makes Microsoft, Samsung and IBM and to a less degree also Apple and Google the titans they are: they don't rely on a funneled source of income and may shift human and capital resources to fight for new markets they want to be, they may lose some money on that but it will not do a "harm to death" on them. RIM and many others did not have the big parachutes they once thought they had nor the time to overcome the rapid evolving changes.

It is also a remainder that is better to be fast and be second then try to be best and be late.

Reply Score: 6

RE[4]: Comment by lucas_maximus
by acobar on Mon 30th Sep 2013 21:59 UTC in reply to "RE[3]: Comment by lucas_maximus"
acobar Member since:
2005-11-15

It is also a remainder that is better to be fast and be second then try to be best and be late.


Change to 'than'. I'm too tired, I guess. Anyway, where that glass walked to? ;-)

Reply Score: 3

RE[5]: Comment by lucas_maximus
by phoenix on Mon 30th Sep 2013 22:42 UTC in reply to "RE[4]: Comment by lucas_maximus"
phoenix Member since:
2005-07-11

If you're going to be picky enough to mention "then" -> "than", you should also do a "remainder" -> "reminder".

;)

Reply Score: 3

RE[6]: Comment by lucas_maximus
by acobar on Tue 1st Oct 2013 01:12 UTC in reply to "RE[5]: Comment by lucas_maximus"
acobar Member since:
2005-11-15

Yes, thank you. I really should proofread before post. I also should not use it as an excuse but as English is not my first language, many times I fall for the "sound" trap. You know, you are tired and your brain keep using shortcuts.

Back to the subject, I hope RIM reinvent itself and, somehow, carve a new position on the communication business but I dunno it would be on phone devices, the market now is so crowded by "800 pound gorillas" that probably it would be wiser to search for greener pastures.

Reply Score: 2

Hubris or Risk Taking?
by siraf72 on Mon 30th Sep 2013 19:14 UTC
siraf72
Member since:
2006-02-22

". But few tech companies hit paydirt when following this hubristic concept"

I wish more tech companies adopted this "hubristic" approach. We'd have far faster innovation. More failed companies too, but I could live with that.

To quote Ford "If I’d asked my customers what they wanted, they’d have said a faster horse"

Reply Score: 8

RE: Hubris or Risk Taking?
by Bill Shooter of Bul on Mon 30th Sep 2013 19:41 UTC in reply to "Hubris or Risk Taking?"
Bill Shooter of Bul Member since:
2006-07-14

Howard has it wrong. Blackberry wasn't avant garde like Apple, it was après garde: behind the rest.

Blackberry insisted that the products they already had given to the consumers ( long battery life, good physical keyboard, low mobile data usage) were better than the ones the consumers wanted. Apple insists that the products it will give consumers ( touchscreen phone with good browser) are better than what they want ( an ipod with a clickwheel phone dialer).

Reply Score: 5

RE[2]: Hubris or Risk Taking?
by galvanash on Tue 1st Oct 2013 00:48 UTC in reply to "RE: Hubris or Risk Taking?"
galvanash Member since:
2006-01-25

Howard has it wrong. Blackberry wasn't avant garde like Apple, it was après garde: behind the rest.

Blackberry insisted that the products they already had given to the consumers ( long battery life, good physical keyboard, low mobile data usage) were better than the ones the consumers wanted. Apple insists that the products it will give consumers ( touchscreen phone with good browser) are better than what they want ( an ipod with a clickwheel phone dialer).


Absolutely, you nailed it.

Reply Score: 3

RE[2]: Hubris or Risk Taking?
by siraf72 on Tue 1st Oct 2013 17:58 UTC in reply to "RE: Hubris or Risk Taking?"
siraf72 Member since:
2006-02-22

Howard has it wrong. Blackberry wasn't avant garde like Apple, it was après garde: behind the rest.

Blackberry insisted that the products they already had given to the consumers ( long battery life, good physical keyboard, low mobile data usage) were better than the ones the consumers wanted. Apple insists that the products it will give consumers ( touchscreen phone with good browser) are better than what they want ( an ipod with a clickwheel phone dialer).


Agreed. on a related note, I recall a BBC report in which they mentioned market research conducted by Ericsson (pre iPhone) that showed that customers didn't care for larger screens and considered battery life to be very important. ... so much for market research.

Reply Score: 2

RE[3]: Hubris or Risk Taking?
by JAlexoid on Wed 2nd Oct 2013 09:54 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: Hubris or Risk Taking?"
JAlexoid Member since:
2009-05-19

Listening to customers is a very bad thing. People don't know what they want, they do know what they need.

Generally the masses are unimaginative, lazy and dumb.

Reply Score: 2

A few notes (for the future)
by BlueofRainbow on Mon 30th Sep 2013 19:37 UTC
BlueofRainbow
Member since:
2009-01-06

Please note that most of the content in the Globe and Mail is behind a pay wall.

After 30 days (i.e. on October 28th), only subscribers will be able to read the original article.

Futhermore, one is allowed to read for free up to 10 articles per month. Apparently, one does not need to read a long article in a single session as it can be revisited as often as needed. There has been qite a few related articles which one can read as well.

Reply Score: 3

BlueofRainbow
Member since:
2009-01-06

The co-leadership of the company worked well during the growth phase of the company. However, and not surprisingly, it started to sour when set-backs and obstacles occurred.

As a side note, the distraction of Jim Balsillie by his failed pursuit of the acquisition of a pro-hockey team (three times in five years) may have had an impact on his rational decision making capabilies. It may be just coincidences, but the timing of some of the most heavily second-guessed decisions of RIM/BlackBerry were during these pro-hockey quests.

There were a few readers comments mentioning the role of the press in general - which sells best its advertisement space when talking about a darling (RIM at its height, Apple for the last few years) or a black sheep scenario (BlackBerry in the last couple of years).

Has anybody mentioned the sustained drop in Apple share price in the last little while? No many - most have focused only on the launch of the newest iPhones and how many have been sold!

Reply Score: 2

Apple slaughtered them.
by stabbyjones on Mon 30th Sep 2013 20:16 UTC
stabbyjones
Member since:
2008-04-15

The iPhone killed BlackBerry. This is coming from an Apple hater but I watched every business I worked with have BlackBerry's to every business having iPhones.

People got caught up in the shiny and it made a BlackBerry look archaic by comparison. They had no chance.

Reply Score: 3

Serious medicine
by fretinator on Mon 30th Sep 2013 20:45 UTC
fretinator
Member since:
2005-07-06

I strained my hubristic once, couldn't walk for a week.

Reply Score: 6

RE: Serious medicine
by BallmerKnowsBest on Wed 2nd Oct 2013 22:50 UTC in reply to "Serious medicine"
BallmerKnowsBest Member since:
2008-06-02

I strained my hubristic once, couldn't walk for a week.


The hubrisket is my favorite cut of beef.

Edited 2013-10-02 22:51 UTC

Reply Score: 2

From what I gathered
by drcoldfoot on Mon 30th Sep 2013 23:32 UTC
drcoldfoot
Member since:
2006-08-25

RIM tried to enter a market it clearly didn't have business being in (Consumer market). It did a shoddy job at it(BB Storm), and went downhill ever since. Android and iOS weren't positioned as Enterprise-ready Oses. So RIM clearly had the market share in that arena. When they effectively abandoned their corporate customers for the consumer business, they ended up losing Both the Corporate customers since the BB Storm had frequent reliability issues , that RIM BES blackout debacle didn't help either, corporate customers abandoned security, stability (even though now almost non-existent in the BB Storm), and the fact that upper execs, now personally purchased that shiny new iphone, demanded basic support for it within their organizations. Thus the BYOD era really took off, and is one of an IT department's largest headaches.

Reply Score: 5

BlueofRainbow Member since:
2009-01-06

The Storm was not an in-house generated idea and that raised the stakes against its success.

It was the answer to a request from Verizon Wireless for an "iPhone killer" as they had been shut-out of that emerging market by the exclusive Apple - AT&T deal.

As the Storm was far below expectations, Verizon turned its back on RIM and heavily promoted the Android based Motorola offering. Not surprisingly, RIM then abandonned the product shortly after.

As a concept, the Storm may have been a strategic opportunity for RIM. However, venturing into this without genuine passion and within a timeline imposed from the outside were likely contributing factors of the failure.

The Q10/Z10 pair appears to be what RIM's true answer to the iPhone should have been from the start - same OS, same internals, same supporting network but duality of interfaces to suit user preferences.

Reply Score: 2

drcoldfoot Member since:
2006-08-25



The Q10/Z10 pair appears to be what RIM's true answer to the iPhone should have been from the start - same OS, same internals, same supporting network but duality of interfaces to suit user preferences.


And THAT's a large reason for their failure. They still tried to tackle the consumer market when they should have stayed in their lane and focused solely on the Enterprise market. Basically, this was a tragic-comic attempt at embracing both markets. They didn't have the app selection of Android or iOS. Nor did they have the backing of their previously burned enterprise clients.

Reply Score: 3

BlueofRainbow Member since:
2009-01-06

In an era when BYOD is becoming accepted by Corporate IT, embracing both markets is a must.

On the Enterprise side, it does not matter how many millions of Apps are there in the ecosystem as only the dozen or so pertinent to the business will be blessed for use and installed on the devices provided. Of course such provided devices would be locked and prevent the installation of any non-business related Apps.

On the Consumers side, number and quality of available Apps, perceived status of the brand/device, familiarity with the user interface, and being unique or following the crowd are all factors for selection. There are many choices and some distinguishing features would have been needed. With "touch" being the hot buzzword (even for desktops), devices bearing real keyboards have a limited future.

Within a BYOD environment, having a single infrastructure supporting all devices becomes mandatory. RIM had an initial edge with their BBM services. Deployement of the Android and iOS "BBM" Apps would have been necessary for success. That idea had unfortunately been killed in early 2012.

All the elements for long-term sustainability were there even if somewhat late to come to fruition. It's unfortunate that a lack of cohesion prevented any seeds of hope to sprout - internally and in the press.

Reply Score: 2

The Fall of GNOME
by allanregistos on Mon 30th Sep 2013 23:53 UTC
allanregistos
Member since:
2011-02-10

It reminded me of the fall of Gnome. Gnome developers knew better what the users want. So they remove the Shut Down Menu and encourage the use of Suspend. They believe that laptops are everywhere, when in fact there are still the majority of users were using business desktops.

If you will not listen to your customers, your products will fail. There are so many alternatives.

Reply Score: 4

RE: The Fall of GNOME
by Savior on Tue 1st Oct 2013 09:41 UTC in reply to "The Fall of GNOME"
Savior Member since:
2006-09-02

So they remove the Shut Down Menu and encourage the use of Suspend. They believe that laptops are everywhere, when in fact there are still the majority of users were using business desktops.


While I agree with what you said, generally (Gnome was the first connection my mind made, too, after having read that sentence), I don't think suspend works better on laptops than on desktops. It's more like an SSD thing: if you have an SSD (which, mind you, the majority of notebooks don't), it's fine; with a HDD, suspend has been unusable ever since system memory size passed 512MB.

Reply Score: 2

RE[2]: The Fall of GNOME
by darknexus on Tue 1st Oct 2013 11:33 UTC in reply to "RE: The Fall of GNOME"
darknexus Member since:
2008-07-15

I don't think suspend works better on laptops than on desktops. It's more like an SSD thing: if you have an SSD (which, mind you, the majority of notebooks don't), it's fine; with a HDD, suspend has been unusable ever since system memory size passed 512MB.

You're confusing suspend with hibernate. Suspend, aka suspend to ram or standby, has nothing to do with the disk space in the computer as it does exactly what it sounds like. Not defending Gnome here, just want to clarify this point. What you're describing is suspend to disk, or hibernation. The two methods of suspend are fundamentally different.

Reply Score: 4

RE[3]: The Fall of GNOME
by Savior on Tue 1st Oct 2013 12:27 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: The Fall of GNOME"
Savior Member since:
2006-09-02

You are entirely right; I'm always saying "sleep" myself, so that's why I ended up mixing the two.

Of course, now the previous comment makes much more sense -- and the Gnome developers' decision so little that I can't even understand how anybody could have thought it a good idea...

Reply Score: 2

RE: The Fall of GNOME
by benali72 on Tue 1st Oct 2013 13:25 UTC in reply to "The Fall of GNOME"
benali72 Member since:
2008-05-03

I was wondering, when the blip refers to user interfaces that consumers have rejected, whether it means GNOME or Windows 8. Or maybe even KDE 4 when it first came out (before all the adjustments and improvements of the point releases)? In each case, the product providers seemed to think they knew better than their users what those users wanted. Strange idea.

Reply Score: 2

Oh Crap, Canada
by tony on Wed 2nd Oct 2013 04:59 UTC
tony
Member since:
2005-07-06

This is a pretty big blow for Canada, specifically Ontario. RIM/Blackberry was one of the crown jewels of Canada's tech sector. (Along with Nortel, and we all know what happened to Nortel.)

It's a blow to their national pride, and there's nothing in the wings (that I'm aware of) to take on the mantle of globally dominant technology company.

Finland is probably in a similar place. Nokia was Finland's pride and joy. A country that might have been thought of as backward (and a little drunk) by their other Scandinavian neighbors, Nokia was a big "In Your Face".

Reply Score: 2