BlackBerry phone service officially ends

BlackBerrys, of course, have grown in size and acquired features like the ability to make phone calls and possibly take pictures. And then, almost overnight, they became a popular consumer product and RIM became an industry giant. The company, however, would be grappling with a much more volatile consumer market. His low-cost handsets for consumers, very different from those he made a name for himself with, were often buggy and unreliable.

As RIM struggled to figure out what consumers wanted, it tried a something for everyone approach. In 2011, the company was unable to tell me how many different models it offered for an article in which I described its range as follows:, BlackBerry with full keyboards, BlackBerry with compact keyboards, high-end BlackBerry and models at low price. In RIM’s efforts to cater to everyone, it has gradually drawn in almost no one.

In 2011, of course, the iPhone was well established. RIM executives initially rejected Apple’s offer. It lacked, of course, a physical keyboard. Shortly after the iPhone’s release, a senior RIM executive spoke at the end of an interview about what he saw as the iPhone’s fatal flaw. Unlike BlackBerrys, he noted, iPhones couldn’t reduce wireless data costs by compressing web pages. They were, he said, “inefficient bandwidth.”

Assuming they knew something about bandwidth efficiency, consumers didn’t really care. Smartphones had become software, not keyboards – a fact that BlackBerry executives were slow to come to terms with. “They are not idiots, but they behaved like idiots,” Jean-Louis Gassée, a former Apple executive, told me in 2011.


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Margie D. Carlisle