Years ago, Cadillac was the premier car on the road. It’s the reason some people still say something unrelated, “is the Cadillac of” whatever they’re talking about.
Then the Lexus and the Infinity started stealing their thunder. Cadillac’s response was to pretend they weren’t losing their dominance as the luxury car to own, and just kept doing what they’d always done: Turned out expensive, roomy cars with poor gas mileage. And of course, they got stomped.
Cadillac only really started to turn things around when they came out with the Esplanade. Gargantuan SUVs were in, and if there’s one thing Caddy knows how to make, it is oversized cars. And by 2005, you just weren’t anyone unless the Cadillac Esplanade is what you drove to the Source Awards.
Now, in the story above:
- Replace Lexus with iPhone
- Replace Infinity with Android
- Replace Cadillac with Blackberry
Blackberry was also the phone of choice for people who wanted to do more than just talk. When you saw someone with that huge keyboard, you knew they either had a lot going on or an employer willing to get them a phone. It got e-mail, which was a magical concept just 5 years ago, and you could actually type out messages without having to press the 7 four times, then the 4 two times, then the 4 again three times, then the 8 once… because QWERTY keyboards were too cool to be believed.
Then the iPhone and Android phones came out, and the market changed completely.
What was the response of Research in Motion, makers of the Blackberry? They continue to turn out various versions of the same phone. The Curve and the Bold and the Torch have different features, but are essentially the same OS with the same keyboard. (Though the Torch has a touch screen that’s larger than the standard Blackberry, in a lackluster attempt to be iPhone-ish.)
If Blackberry wants their Esplanade, what they really need is a real update to their operating system, better support for third party developers, and prices that make sense for what they sell.
As a Blackberry owner, I do like it. The keyboard is still comfortable, and makes texting one-handed simple. The voice commands work brilliantly – far better than anything else on the market. Blackberry Messenger is still a free alternative to texting – if you know someone else who has a Blackberry, of course.
If RIM can’t figure out how to compete, they need to play to these strengths better. If they can’t do that, maybe they just need to get bought by someone who can. Surely Facebook is considering their options for getting into the mobile market. Buying up the once great house of Blackberry would certainly make the creation of an Official Facebook Phone a lot easier for them to do.