Highs and lows of BlackBerry

  • Agencies
  • |
  • Updated: Sep 24, 2013 02:00 IST

Where it all began
Two engineering students, Mike Lazaridis and Douglas Fregin, created Research In Motion (RIM) in 1984. RIM worked on modems and pagers in the beginning

Balsillie joins RIM
Bringing his own money into RIM, James Balsillie joined the company in 1992. He took a pay cut while joining the company and is said to have mortgaged his house to bring in the money along with his business sense.
Signs of the first phone

The company’s 900 Inter@ctive Pager was introduced in 1996. It had features such as messaging, faxes and email. Then came the RIM 950, technically the first BlackBerry. The BlackBerry mail service began in 1999.

Trouble for RIM
NTP accused RIM of violating its wireless mail patents in 2000. RIM argued the technology was in public domain. A long court case ensued and the two sides came to a settlement at $612 million in 2005.
The ‘CrackBerry’ craze
Initially popular with business users, the BlackBerry devices started catching the eyes of the masses by 2006. It was dubbed "CrackBerry" in the US because of its addictive nature. President Barack Obama confessed to being among the millions of devotees who couldn't bear to stop tapping feverishly away on its tiny keyboard. Madonna once said she slept with hers under her pillow.

Sitting pretty
Apple launched the iPhone in 2007 to compete with the BlackBerry Pearl. The Pearl was the first BlackBerry with a camera and a media player. The BlackBerry 8800 series and the Curve followed in the same year. With 10 million subscribers by the end of 2007, BlackBerry was enjoying its supremacy.

Losing its grip
Android was launched in late 2008. Soon after, BlackBerry launched its touchscreen phone, the Storm. The Storm, however, lost out to devices such as the iPhone and HTC phones. There were reports of poor performance and sluggish touchcreen experience.

Playbook disaster
RIM’s tablet, the PlayBook, was launched but couldn’t help the companies dwindling performance. It did not have an app base and email services. The design was also widely criticised.

The outages
In 2011, there were riots in England and they were reportedly organised with the help of BlackBerry. This dented the image of the phone company. There were major outages in BlackBerry in October 2011. The Co-CEO Mike Lazaridis later apologised for the glitches. An offer of free apps as compensation could not the help the cause of the firm much.

CEOs quit, BlackBerry 10 fails to impress
Mike Lazaridis and Jim Balsillie, the co-chief executives of RIM resigned. RIM's board of directors named former chief operating officer Thorsten Heins as president and CEO.
The BlackBerry subscriber base peaked at 80 million in December 2012 and the new platform has not arrested its decline. The launch of BlackBerry 10, its revamped operating system, and fancier new devices — the touchscreen Z10 and Q10 for keyboard loyalists — was supposed to rejuvenate the brand and lure customers. But the much-delayed phones have failed to turn the company around.

Closer to the end
The company in September, 2013, said it would lay off 4,500 employees, or 40 percent of its global workforce, as it tried to slash costs by 50 percent and shift its focus back to competing mainly for the business customers most loyal to its brand.


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