June 3, 2011: iOS overtakes Research in Motion’s BlackBerry operating system for the first time.
While Android remains comfortably in the lead in terms of market share, the news marks the beginning of the end for BlackBerry as a smartphone powerhouse.
Beginning of the end for BlackBerry
Research in Motion, a Canadian company that established deep roots in corporate environments with pagers and other enterprise hardware, once ruled the business world. Its long line of BlackBerry devices boasted responsive physical QWERTY keyboards and native support for push email. These features made them the go-to mobile devices for the corporate world.
That all began to change after Apple got into the game in 2007 with the iPhone launch. Just four years later, BlackBerry’s remarkable decline mirrored the iPhone’s rapid ascent, only in reverse.
In 2009, as the iPhone really started to take off, BlackBerry’s global market share hovered around 50%. By 2013, it fell to less than 3%. And on January 4, 2022, BlackBerry officially pulled the plug on its once-dominant devices.
“As another milestone in the BlackBerry journey, we will be taking steps to decommission the legacy services for BlackBerry 7.1 OS and earlier, BlackBerry 10 software, BlackBerry PlayBook OS 2.1 and earlier versions, with an end of life or termination date of January 4, 2022,” the company said in a statement. “As of this date, devices running these legacy services and software through either carrier or Wi-Fi connections will no longer reliably function, including for data, phone calls, SMS and 9-1-1 functionality. We have chosen to extend our service until then as an expression of thanks to our loyal partners and customers.”
Upstart iPhone killed BlackBerry
The stats released on this date in 2011 highlighted the sea change occurring in the mobile world. Figures released by comScore showed that Apple’s iOS platform held 26% of the U.S. market, while BlackBerry fell to 25.7%.
By this point, Apple had overtaken RIM in terms of smartphone shipments. However, due to the BlackBerry’s historic lead, it took slightly longer for the iPhone to catch up in terms of mobile usage.
BlackBerry fails to act
The 2015 book Losing the Signal: The Untold Story Behind the Extraordinary Rise and Spectacular Fall of BlackBerry tells the story of Research in Motion’s reaction to the original iPhone. BlackBerry execs responded with equal parts terror, admiration and burying their heads in the sand.
One passage outlines the company’s utter failure to acknowledge the grave threat the iPhone represented.
“RIM’s chiefs didn’t give much additional thought to Apple’s iPhone for months. ‘It wasn’t a threat to RIM’s core business,’ says [founder] Mr. Lazaridis’s top lieutenant, Larry Conlee. ‘It wasn’t secure. It had rapid battery drain and a lousy [digital] keyboard.'”
Like Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer’s hysterical laughing at Apple’s $500 phone, the bosses at BlackBerry failed to realize just how dangerous the iPhone was to their business until it was too late. Like, way, way too late.
Did you own a BlackBerry back in the day? When did you jump ship to Apple and the iPhone? Let us know your thoughts and recollections in the comments below.