The BlackBerry (insert obscure model name here) was my introduction to the smartphone. Prior to the BlackBerry, I never considered the usefulness of a smartphone. Obviously, I didn’t know what I was missing out on.
After about a year of using the BlackBerry, two things became abundantly clear to me. First, my needs were evolving. Having my calendar, contacts, notes, reminders, email and basic access to the web would make my life a lot easier. Having to wait until I got home to check personal email, and using sticky notes and business cards to remind me of things was a royal pain.
The second thing I learned was that the Blackberry was fairly lousy at all of these things, and they weren’t improving with upgrades.
The screen (both in size and quality) absolutely sucked. The physical keyboard was a horrible experience for me because the keys were so small that I spent more time re-typing text than it was worth. The little trackball was a joke, and the “apps” were truly anemic. I had two BlackBerry phones, and you would be hard-pressed to know which was the latest and greatest. RIM and the BlackBerry never evolved.
It became clear to me that Apple had solved virtually every problem I had with the BlackBerry and most other smartphones — including Apple’s previous generation iPhone — when it released the iPhone 4.
And there you have the essence of Apple’s success. They don’t necessarily make the best product out of the gate. They make a really good product out of the gate, and waste little time improving upon it in simple ways that were noticeable to the user. Even with the first iPhone, you could see it was going to be great in no time. This is something RIM just never seemed to understand.
To this day, the BlackBerry remains much the same device it was prior to the rise of the iPhone and Android OS. RIM’s hardware is still a convoluted line of dozens upon dozens of mediocre devices that are mostly the same. The OS suffers from the same problems it had when I used it years ago, and has improved only in superficial ways.
RIM’s management is a case study in “stick your head in the sand and hope the storm passes.”
Well, if you read Dante D’Orazio’s article at the Verge on Sunday, it’s fairly clear that RIM still has its head stuck in the sand, and the storm is about to sweep their asses away.
Steve Jobs used to joke that when he returned to Apple, Gil Amelio (the CEO at the time) told him that “Apple was a ship with a hole in the bottom, and it was his job to get it pointed in the right direction.” RIM is a leaking ship with a captain and crew that seem to be dead-set on steering the ship into shallow, rocky waters.
RIM hasn’t evolved. They haven’t catered to the changing market. They haven’t improved. Simply, they’re just ignorant. And now it appears they’re going to pay the ultimate price for business ignorance.