Remember how a decade ago everybody had a BlackBerry? Those days are over now, as the Canadian tech firm has confirmed that it will no longer create these phones, marking the end of an era for the once dominant leader of the smartphone market. While the news is hardly surprising, BlackBerry has greatly contributed to how mobile telecommunication is shaped, as we know it today. Consider this a eulogy to how BlackBerry became a relic of the past.
Mike Lazardis and Douglas Fregin founded Research in Motion (RIM) in 1984. Only in 2013 the company officially changed its name to BlackBerry, though it had been widely known by the name for many years. In 1999 RIM released its first two-way pager - the BlackBerry 850 - that supported email and web browsing.
BlackBerry pioneered “push e-mail”, meaning users simply received notifications of their messages, instead of having to constantly check for new e-mails. Reportedly, the products were named BlackBerry due to the visual resemblance of the rounded QWERTY keys to the seeds of the blackberry fruit. In 2002 the company launched their first handset to actually include call-making capabilities, making it the first functional BlackBerry mobile, albeit through a headset.
Initially popular within the business community, the company introduced their signature trackball in 2006, along with a camera, navigation and chat features, attracting the attention of the mass-market. In 2007 RIM released the BlackBerry Curve, the model that is undoubtedly imprinted in our memories when we think about the phone today. Dubbed "CrackBerry" in the US because of its addictive nature, it seemed like nothing could stop the keyboard revolution.
However, the same year the first iPhone generation arrived, making the physical keyboard obsolete and marking the first cracks of the BlackBerry empire, as their web browsers were lacking. In 2008 the company unveiled their magnum opus - the BlackBerry Bold 9000 - and saw their shares peak like never before. But the worst was yet to come: later that year the first android phones went on sale.
Gradually Apple's iOS and Android took over the global smartphone market, followed by the release of the iPad in 2010. According to Christian Kane, mobile analyst at technology research firm Forrester, "They really missed the boat on that and were never really able to catch up". More negative news followed as during the London riots in 2011, the social network of the tech firm - BlackBerry Messenger (BBM) - played a key role to incite violence.
In 2013 BlackBerry introduced the first model without physical keyboard. That same year the company took on Alicia Keys as their global creative director. The singer hiring didn't bring any result. Just a month after signing with BlackBerry, she sent out a tweet from her iPhone blaming on hackers.
BlackBerry was once the indispensable accessory of business executives, Hollywood celebrities, and the US president, but now it belongs to the past. Even though the company is currently focussing on software and security, the BlackBerry we know is gone forever.