End of a BlackBerry Era?

Nicole Perlroth of the New York Times suggests this week that the era of the BlackBerry may be over. In fact, having a BlackBerry today may even carry a stigma:

BlackBerrys may still linger in Washington, Wall Street and the legal profession, but in Silicon Valley they are as rare as a necktie.

 But even in these establishments, change is happening:

Goldman Sachs recently gave its employees the option to use an iPhone. Covington & Burling, a major law firm, did the same at the urging of associates. Even the White House, which used the BlackBerry for security reasons, recently started supporting the iPhone. (Some staff members suspect that decision was influenced by President Obama, who now prefers his iPad for national security briefings. A spokesman for the White House declined to comment.)

video of the new L-Series BlackBerry phone with touchscreen was leaked recently. But will it be enough? And why is the N-Series planning on restoring a physical keyboard?

Are you seeing the end of the BlackBerry in your practice? (Disclosure of RIM stock is probably a prudent prerequisite).


  1. I will never get rid of my Blackberry. I can type much more quickly and accurately on a physical keyboard. I happily use an iPad to consume content at work but will often switch to my BB to type out longer emails rather than fight with a keyboard that gives me no tactile feedback.

    Full disclosure, I graduated from the University of Waterloo. :o)

  2. Out of the maybe 50 lawyers in my office, I’d say 35 are on the iPhone. Of the other 15, most if not all of them have plans to migrate over once contracts are up.

    I would have agreed that typing was quicker on my second-last blackberry (the Pearl). On my last one, I think the Bold, the keyboard was so small it wasn’t quick at all.

    Most of us cite the “everything else” the iPhone brings to the table. On the work side, the ability of the iPhone to look at attachments (something the blackberry seems oddly bad at) is huge. Plus, on the less professional side, Facetime, the integration with home systems, airprint, airplay, music and podcasting, the superior browser, and most of all the plethora of apps. I can’t imagine handcuffing myself to a blackberry again.

  3. Despite holding no RIM stock and being an avid iPad user, I can’t ever see myself giving up a QWERTY Blackberry device in favor of an iPhone with its terrible excuse for a ‘virtual’ keyboard saddled with an auto-correct that actively fights against the user.

    It’s an understatement to say that Blackberry has hit a few bumps in the road but if you’re interested in “tools not toys” as the saying goes…it’s Blackberry or bust.

    I’m keeping my fingers crossed that the (eventual?) release of BB10 OS with the physical QWERTY keyboard will also incorporate the better web-browsing and attachment management that iOS devices have. If it can do that, I’m in no danger of switiching away from RIM.

  4. Mike – If I take your reply as written, most of what your colleagues find attractive about the iPhone has nothing to do with work. Who is paying for the devices and the data contracts? That’s certainly relevant to what device one chooses.


  5. @David – its a good question – they’re used for both work and personal. I’m using OpenTable and Yelp to find restaurants for meals with clients, Twitter for keeping up to date, LinkedIn to keep up with contacts, etc.

    I’ll go at the answer in another way – in our firm (like most big firms) the line between business and personal is pretty blurred. We can talk another day about the appropriateness of that. When I’m asking a junior to work at 11 on a Tuesday night, I’m not thinking about the bright line between personal and work uses, I’m thinking about how I keep this person happy and motivated.

  6. If tactile typing is all that BB has to offer in this competition, it’s dead. Document handling, recording meetings, PDF annotation, capturing images & data, Maps and gps functionality, battery life, reception, remote access, task lists — on most fronts, I see BB as lagging behind or only on par.

    Also interesting, outside of legal and especially in the tech sector, it’s a simple question of Android vs Apple. BB hasn’t been in the game for at least two years, and in many circles Androids completely dominate, not iPhones.

    BB will be dead as we know it in less than 5 years. RIM needs to forget the BB name and rebrand under another. Then turn out 3-4 innovative designs in succession. If they don’t get acquired sooner.

    It really doesn’t matter if they are (or become) the best business smartphone on the market — they’re betamaxed.

  7. Following up on Steve’s comments, the brand itself has gone from corridors-of-power corporate-slick (with presidential approval) to tech embarrassment in dizzyingly fast fashion. From the same NYTimes article:

    RIM’s most recent efforts to hold on to loyal customers, as well as software developers building apps for its next generation of phones scheduled to be available next year, have elicited universal cringes. In a recent promotional video, Alec Saunders, RIM’s vice president for developer relations, is shown belting out a rock song titled “Devs, BlackBerry Is Going to Keep on Loving You,” a riff on the 1981 power ballad by REO Speedwagon “Keep on Loving You.”

    “This is the sign of a desperate company,” said Nick Mindel, a 26-year-old investment analyst.

    A tech company wooing developers in 2012 with a corporate VP riffing on a 31-year old REO Speedwagon song is just plain abysmal and displays a painful lack of market awareness. My $0.02