he latest earnings report from Research In Motion (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 iPhones and 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 that was valued at $29.4 billion a year ago (it's now worth $7.3 billion), and 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.
"RIM's bleak future"
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 fans cite reliability as they snub competitors"
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."
"Can RIM make a comeback?"
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
- 31 TV shows to watch in 2014
- Why atheism doesn't have the upper hand over religion
- The world's dumbest idea: Taxing solar energy
- 14 wonderful words with no English equivalent
- He said he was leaving. She ignored him.
- Why would a young person today be religious?
- What would a U.S.-Russia war look like?
- If a nuclear bomb exploded in downtown Washington, what should you do?
- Why Good Friday is so important to Christians
- Attack of the invasive species
Subscribe to the Week