BlackBerryBlackBerry had its day in the limelight. But unfortunately, that light has gone out, and to quote T. S. Eliot, “not with a bang but a whimper.”

When BlackBerry started, the brand name was unique, and the product matched the unique name. Everyone had to have one. As time went on, businesses jumped at the chance to add them to their preferred list of tech gadgets. In fact, President Barack Obama and Former Senator/Secretary of State Hillary Clinton were two famous users often captured in photos with their BlackBerries.

Initially created to answer the question, “Why would anyone want their emails away from the office?,” the BlackBerry became the tool of choice for anyone who needed access by phone and email at home and on the road. It was easy to send messages with the QWERTY keyboard.

So what happened? Did BlackBerry fall asleep when it came to product enhancements while Apple developed the iPhone? Did the BlackBerry leadership team become complacent? Did the product simply outlive its purpose? Remember the Palm?

There are many reasons BlackBerry has fallen. First, there were several times during the last few years that the company was not responsive when its servers went down, and all users had no service. Apple has never experienced that. Second, the company leaders did not understand that the product had to evolve to meet the demands of its customers. Again, think Apple. While the iPhone immediately set a new standard for smartphones with its limitless variety of apps, it allowed its customers to customize their gadget – this was impossible with the BlackBerry. And lastly, while email was the claim to fame when BlackBerry started, the world has changed. Texting has grown exponentially, and BlackBerry emphasized form over substance by going so far as releasing a tablet without email. In addition, hardware and software were released without proper testing, which led to a poor user experience.

The BlackBerry brand name was synonymous with technical innovation, but today is synonymous with disappointment and dissatisfaction. When a brand provides a business solution and makes life easier for its users, it earns a spot in users’ hearts and minds. But when a brand disappoints, causes headaches, and stops providing solutions, its brand equity suffers. This is the story of BlackBerry, and why it will forever be a case study for branding experts.

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