Blackberry was once the greatest smartphone manufacturer in the world. They were the first to make the smartphone that “regular people” started to buy, and business professionals flocked to them like they never did to Palm or Windows Phone products. Back then, Blackberry phones were king, and many would find themselves addicted to the ability to be always connected, calling their devices “crackberries”. One feature they had that made users of dumbphones, feature phones, and even other smartphone platforms was BBM, Blackberry Messaging. The service allowed for rich multiedia messaging and read receipts, much like iMessage today. However, in 2007, Apple changed the smartphone game, and Blackberry started to fall. No longer the king, and with BBM no longer coveted, Blackberry has taken aim at the new king of messaging, iMessage. Now they’re acting like hypocrites.
BBM is now available on iOS and Android. Blackberry finally started to make their platform open to other platforms, but not while the feature was actually coveted. Blackberry told consumers that if they wanted BBM, they’d have to get a Blackberry. They changed their tune when no one was using Blackberry phones anymore. Now that their numbers are dwindling, they made what once was their most popular feature free to all. With Blackberry struggling to make it back up the ladder, they’ve started grasping at straws. Now they’re critisizing the tactics Apple is using with iMessage, that is, keeping it locked to the iOS and Mac platforms. Blackberry’s asking for legal intervention to make iMessage available on other platforms. Blackberry once used these same tactics to bolster their brand, now when those tactics are working for another company, they’re asking for legal intervention. Blackberry has been a lot of things over the years, but hypocritical is a new one.
It’s easy to see what Blackberry thinks they’ll gain here. Their belief is that many people may buy iPhones, or may be unwilling to ditch iOS, because of iMessage. Therefore, if Blackberry phones could have iMessage, more consumers would be willing to make the switch to Blackberry’s platform. However they’re ignoring everything else iOS users would have to give up, not the least of which is the App Store, which has more and better apps that Blackberry’s marketplace, even if it is assisted by emulated Android apps.
I feel bad for Blackberry, but petty moves like this aren’t going to bring the company back. Amazing and innovative phones and operating systems may help, but Blackberry’s not sitting back in that department either. The Passport is unllike any other phone, becoming a strange 4″ phablet with a full hardware keyboard, and the Classic takes Blackberry back to their roots. Their Z10 and Z30 give users a more modern smartphone, with nothing but a touchscreen. Perhaps the real thing Blackberry needs to combat is the idea that the brand is an old one, their phones are yesterday’s technology. Blackberry’s problem is their brand, how people view the company. Blackberry should consider appealing to the idea of a comeback. People love an underdog making a comeback, and if they focus on their variety of devices and security, as well as Android app compatibility, maybe they can bring some of their old users back. This legal approach would force Apple to make a Blackberry app. It seems Blackberry has so few third party developers, they now want to force developers to make Blackberry apps. That’s just sad.