Creative Destruction

I thought this was an interesting example of creative destruction.  Five years ago, Time and Newsweek were running cover stories about the "Blackberry" culture and how ubiquitous the device was in modern business.  Now, people are making fun of it for being outdated tech.  If only we could get the average voter to truly appreciate creative destruction.  We might have fewer bailouts and more economic growth.

By the way, Canada says it won't bail out Blackberry, which is good, but is interesting given that it did bail out the Canadian automotive sector just a few years ago.  In terms of total market value I would guess the Canadian automotive sector is way smaller than Blackberry at its peak.  Only a cynic would suggest the difference is that the auto sector is unionized and therefore politically organized to generate campaign donations and grass roots get-out-the-vote efforts, while RIM is not.  That would imply that bailouts were due to political pull rather than sound and consistent economic reasoning, which I am sure can't possibly be true.

PS- there are still good and valid reasons for enterprises, like the Administration and government agencies, to use the Blackberry over smartphones.  Just because they are out of favor with 16-year-old girls does not mean they don't have utility. Oddly, though, given this particular niche and comparative advantage, RIM seems to be obsoleting its installed base of enterprise servers.   I am not an expert, but I think a lot of enterprises would stick with Blackberry for quite a while just out of inertia and lack of desire to change.  But now that Blackberry is forcing them to rethink their whole enterprise platform anyway, it seems to allow other competitors solutions into play.  Or am I missing something?

Update:  Apparently RIM is saying the previous paragraph is incorrect, that the new servers will support all the old devices ... except for email, calendar, and contacts.  Unfortunately, this seems to encompass the entire Blackberry functionality.  I have had one or two of the devices, and you are a nut if you are trying to surf the web on one as your main usage.


  1. Mark2:

    Canada does have a history of saving and subsidizing industry. The government kept giving failing industries to Bombardier for instance. Bombardier was a snow mobile company and Canada forced train manufacturing and aircraft manufacturing on to them with huge subsidies to boot.

    With the Auto industry, I suspect there was a bit of strong arming by the US administration to get the Canadian subsidies. I wouldn't be surprised if Obama promised Keystone in exchange and then later reneged.

  2. ErikTheRed:

    Ugh, I cannot wait for Blackberry to die. Reading e-mail on your phone through their system was a neat trick 15 years ago, but now it's a bloated Rube Goldberg design compared to the way iPhones and Android phones work. Under RIM's system, your Blackberry talks to RIM's servers (over the Internet), which talk to a giant, flaky piece of bloatware they call a server that runs on your company's network (again, over the Internet), which talks to your e-mail server. Contrast this with modern phones that just talk directly to your e-mail servers - two fewer servers and one less Internet path to worry about going down.

  3. Gary Mount:

    During the auto bailout, the current government was a minority government. In May 2011, it won a majority, which may be why the difference now.

  4. FormerCreative:

    What was once a comparative advantage with Blackberry is no longer. Phones generally are replaced every two years or so, so the inertia problem doesn't exist with the same intensity as say, switching a company from Windows to Mac. Plus, most business have switched to a BYOD policy, so Blackberry's actual comparative advantage (intransigent IT/Data Security staff unwilling to buy into expanding support) has all but disappeared. RIM rested on their laurels with the sort of "who cares about 16-year old girls" mentality you expressed in your post, not realizing that that teenie turns into a business user in 6-10 years, and she likes a mobile device that works the way to which she's become accustomed. It's never smart to ignore trends in tech, even if one assumes that trend is only on the edge of your market.

  5. epobirs:

    Blackberries talk to regular email servers just fine. It is only in enterprise situations where you find the BES (Blackberry Enterprise Server). Large businesses greatly appreciated being able to lock down how their mail system operated with the mobile client devices.

    The stuff the Blackberry did well is what I really miss when I used my Samsung Galaxy SII for the same operations. Touch keyboard? Horrible compared to my old Blackberry. After 8 months I can still only produce a fraction of the input speed I had on the old phone. I looked at Android sliders with physical keyboards but they all sucked as Android phones. And the Android email app is really, really, really bad. A toy by comparison. A lot of features that were standard on my old phone I'm going to have to test various third party apps to see if I can regain,with the expectation of expense and wasted time. Like having control of how much mail is stored locally and whether it stays on the phone after it has been erased from the server. One of the reasons I sought to upgrade from the Blackberry was that it would run out of space with just a few hundred messages. My current phone has 48 GB of storage between the native capacity and the added 32 GB microSD card but as far as the ICS email app care I might as well have just a few megabytes. I was stunned to find how limited it was. Google isn't motivated to do better because they really want you to use Google Mail.

    The Blackberry wasn't as pretty as an Android or iOS phone but when it came to getting stuff done the new kids still have much to learn.