The Bankwatch

Tracking the consumer evolution of financial services

The debacle of Blackberry and the message for Banks

I grew up with Blackberry.  In 1999 I was one of a few (< 30) people at my bank with the original Blackberry.  Yes that would be the one on he left.  It was magic.  Finally I had the power of a computer in my pocket.

I was the only one on the subway in those days reading todays news offline.  But of course I wanted more.

I used several more iterations of Blackberry and was still quite happy until 2007.  The five years since then (yes its only 5 years) have killed RIM.  Their refusal to accept the shift to a full screen/ virtual keyboard killed the company.

The Sunday Times reports today that RIM is considering a plan to split its handset division and messaging network into two separate companies, and will sell off the struggling BlackBerry hardware business. The British paper doesn’t cite any sources in the report, but it says that Facebook and Amazon are both "potential buyers." As part of this plan, RIM could keep its enterprise-friendly messaging and data network (including BBM, BIS, and BES) in-house and license them out — a move championed by former co-CEO Jim Balsillie prior to his departure from the company. Alternatively, RIM may sell the network services division, too. The Waterloo-based company has been working with RBC and JP Morgan since earlier this year to conduct a strategic review, and The Sunday Times says the plan is one option drawn up during the process of the review. Another option, short of splitting the company in two, would be to sell a large stake to a corporation like Microsoft.

How did this happen?  It all changed overnight in 2007.  Shortly thereafter I was using an iPhone with its touchscreen.  The debate was on amongst many of us.  Full keyboard or virtual touchscreen keyboard? 

That debate is over.  The balance between full screen and space allocated to a keyboard has been won by a full screen.  The keyboard can be accommodated virtually because the advantage of a full screen is that much superior.

The message is clear.  When your business model is challenged it is easy to push that challenge aside.  In most cases you will be right.  But what if you are not.

How do you select the challenges that are game changing.  That is the question for banks when they look at Paypal, BankSimple, Fidor and others – when should they be worried? 

I say yesterday.

Written by Colin Henderson

June 24, 2012 at 22:45

Posted in Uncategorized

3 Responses

Subscribe to comments with RSS.

  1. Fax vs email, calls vs text, mm vs inches, electronic payments, qwerty vs touch – US vs Europe. There seems to be less resistance to change this side of the pond.

    I suspect it also extends to political and economic evolution, good and bad.

    The Scot Bicycle

    June 25, 2012 at 01:53

  2. It’s easy to be sentimental about your first “technical” love – but as you say – there’s a time to move on. I think the Blackberry keyboard is awesome and I believe people can type faster on that keyboard than any “virtual keyboard”. But then again – anybody who’s done any serious app testing knows that a keyboard-centric user interface is much faster than a pointer-oriented app – yet Windows-type graphical interfaces buried keyboard-centric interfaces ages ago. And yes, I know that any real (hard core) programmer edits their programs with “vi” or “Emacs”. Blackberry we’ll always remember you. You were awesome. You were magic.


    June 25, 2012 at 06:51

  3. […] Blog “the bankwatch” fand ich einen interessanten Artikel, der sich mit dem Fall Blackberry und der daraus ableitbaren Botschaft für Banken beschäftigt. […]

Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: